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Tracks of 2014: Guitar Heroes

Our look back at the best tracks of the year continues with some serious string-wranglers

Howlin’ Rain - Phantom In The Valley (Live) This eight-minute, soul-wringing epic was one of the standout tracks from the Californians’ 2012 album Russian Wilds, and this live recording from this year’s Live Rain album packs even more punch.

Circa Zero - Levitation Something rings a bell about the pinched guitar arpeggios on this record, and that’ll be because they come from the seasoned hands of The Police’s Andy Summers, who joined forces with Rob Giles from the Rescues for this agreeable slice of summery power pop.

Steve Rothery - Morpheus The stately linchpin of Marillion’s widescreen sound for over three decades now, it was perhaps high time that Rothery’s searingly melodic guitar explorations had a solo platform. This wistful, melancholic excerpt also features a solo from ex-Genesis legend Steve Hackett. What’s not to like?

Bernie Tormé - Blood Run Cold The well-travelled former Gillan & Ozzy fret-frazzler released his first solo album for 15 years recently – all 83 minutes of it – and this brooding, mud-caked boogie is a fine how d’you do for the uninitiated.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - The Soundmaker This turbo-charged flamenco-rock duo dedicated each song on their fourth studio outing to different deceased individuals, and this one is in honour of 19th century guitar maker and player Antonio Jurado. A typically urgent instrumental full of jaw-dropping acoustic fretwork, the old master would surely have approved.

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock