The 10 guitar tracks that changed my life, by Kris Barras

a press shot of kris barras

His blues-soaked guitar wrangling might sound like it’s been plucked direct from America’s most Southern states, but MMA-fighter-turned-songwriter Kris Barras in fact hails from a completely different type of Southern coast – that of Devon, UK. Still, since picking up a guitar aged six, joining his dad’s band aged nine and discovering Stevie Ray Vaughan aged 12, he’s been hooked on blues and Southern rock since. Following a brief interlude spent knocking people’s blocks off in cages around the world followed, Barras is now back going what he does best.

To celebrate the release of new album The Divine And The Dirty, Barras joins us to talk us through the guitar tracks which changed his life and career.

Gary Moore - The Loner (from Wild Frontier, 1987)

“This tune was my party piece as a kid. I’d play it at school talent shows, or whenever they were stuck for ideas at assembly time. It was probably the first instrumental guitar track that I had ever heard and I remember just being blown away. He plays with so much passion and the guitar melodies are so strong, you don’t need any vocals. The sound too, I loved the big reverb/delay drenched tone when I was a kid.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Wind Cries Mary (Single, 1967)

“I first heard this on the Wayne’s World 2 soundtrack, when The Naked Indian is crying about the leftover Waynestock rubbish. I love the subtlety in his playing, the way he mixes little licks in and around the chords. I have Wayne’s World to thank for discovering Hendrix with the Foxy Lady scene, too! One of my favourite films as a kid – that and Kickboxer, ha ha.”

Deep Purple - Burn (from Burn, 1974)

“Gary Moore was the first guitar player I fell in love with, but Purple were my first-love band. My dad had a bunch of their albums on vinyl and I used to spend hours listening to them, trying to work out the riffs. People normally associate Deep Purple with that riff that everyone knows how to play, but for me, Burn was always my favourite riff. I love everything about this tune. The vocal harmonies, the drums, Jon Lord’s Organ. Awesome track.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble - Mary Had A Little Lamb (from Texas Flood, 1983)

“Might seem like an odd choice to some people, but this was always my favourite SRV track. His tone is unreal and I love the main 12-bar riff. There are some awesome live versions of this track out there with his band Double Trouble. I remember I had read about Stevie in a guitar mag and bought the Texas Flood CD in the local record store. I was about 12 years old and I was blown away.”

BB King - The Thrill Is Gone (from Completely Well, 1969)

“I know it’s BB’s most well-known song, and I’d have liked to have picked something more obscure to try and be cool, but this track was the first time I had ever heard BB King. I discovered it through his collaboration with Gary Moore. My dad had a VHS tape of a live show where Gary brought BB on to the stage to jam this out. I remember just thinking how different it was to Gary’s playing but worked perfectly. That guy had so much soul and all guitarists owe something to BB King along the way.”

Derek Trucks (Tedeschi Trucks Band) - Midnight In Harlem (from Revelator, 2011)

“For me, this has the best slide guitar solo I’ve ever heard. The end solo is incredible. Great melodies, great tone. The live version that does the rounds on the internet is amazing. I’m an average slide player at best, but I definitely aspire to be able to play like that one day.”

Richie Kotzen - What Makes A Man (from Something To Say, 1997)

“It was really hard for me to narrow my choice down to one Kotzen song! This track is from the Something To Say album and I chose this as I love his playing in both of the solos. I think he has that perfect blend between soulful licks and more speedy, technical lines. Incredible player and an insane vocalist too. Talented guy.”

Steve Vai - The Audience Is Listening (from Passion And Warefare, 1990)

“When I first heard the Passion And Warfare album, I didn’t know what had hit me. It was the first album that introduced me into the world of the instrumental guitar wizards. There were things going on in the guitar playing that I just had no idea even existed. All these different techniques; scales, modes etc. It really opened my eyes in to a whole other realm of Guitar playing. I chose this song as I love the main riff when the track kicks off.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird (from Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, 1973)

“I’ve played this song live more times than I care to remember over the years, but as overplayed as it might be, it is still awesome! I first heard it on one of those ‘Best Rock Anthems’ compilation cassette tapes that used to surface just before Christmas. I remember thinking that the song went on forever, but I never got bored of it. Such an epic solo.”

Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy (Single, 1955)

“This was another compilation tape discovery for me. Every year I would get a new one for Christmas and I’d spend the next year trying to learn all of the songs on it. We obviously didn’t have the internet and guitar tabs ready to hand back then, so I used to sit there pressing ‘Play’ ‘Rewind’ ‘Play’ ‘Rewind’ all day until I got it nailed. This was one of the first Blues tunes I had heard and I remember it really sticking out among the Journey, Queen and Bachman Turner Overdrive tracks. I loved the simplicity of it all. Great feel, great groove.”

New album The Divine And The Dirty by The Kris Barras Band is available now via the Provogue/Mascot Label Group. Check out the video for single Hail Mary below: