5 Outstanding Songs Featuring Late Alt-Rock Guitar Great Robert Quine, Including Tunes by Lou Reed & Tom Waits

Robert Quine, the inventive and edgy guitarist probably best known for his work with Richard Hell and the Voidoids and Lou Reed, died 20 years ago on May 31, 2004.

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Quine was known for his versatile guitar riffing, which incorporated elements of jazz, blues, and experimental rock. As lead guitarist of Richard Hell and the Voidoids, he made significant sonic contributions to the early New York City punk scene.

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During the early 1980s, he was a member of Reed’s backing band, giving him the opportunity to play with a musician who was of his own major influences.

Quine also lent his guitar talents to recordings by a variety of other noteworthy artists. Sadly, several months after his wife, Alice, passed away in 2003, he took his own life at age 62.

In commemoration of Quine’s musical legacy, here are five songs by various artists that feature his unforgettable guitar work:

“Blank Generation” – Richard Hell and the Voidoids (1976)

Richard Hell was already part of New York City’s CBGB scene as a founding member of both Television and Johnny Thunders’ post-New York Dolls band The Heartbreakers before forming his own group. Hell and the Voidoids also featured guitarists Quine and Ivan Julian, and drummer Marc Bell, who later would be known as Marky Ramone.

“Blank Generation” first appeared Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ 1976 EP Another World, and was then featured as the title track of the group’s 1977 debut album. The song is considered one of the definitive anthems of the New York punk scene. The tune actually is a reworked version of the 1959 jazz song “The Beat Generation,” written by Rod McKuen.

Quine’s angular guitar lines intertwine with Julian’s power chords and riffs to drive the shuffling rock track as Hell spits out poetic lyrics.

“The Blue Mask” – Lou Reed (1981)

Quine joined Reed’s touring band in the early 1980s, and also recorded two studio albums with the influential singer/songwriter—The Blue Mask (1982) and Legendary Hearts (1983).

The Blue Mask is considered one of Reed’s finest solo albums. The record’s ferocious title track is highlighted by his and Quine’s dueling guitars.

“Downtown Train” – Tom Waits (1985)

Tom Waits enlisted Quine to play guitar on two tracks on his acclaimed 1985 album Rain Dogs—“Blind Love” and “Downtown Train.” Quine contributed tasteful, melodic licks to “Downtown Train,” which also features guitar work from G.E. Smith and Waits himself.

“Downtown Train” went on to become among Waits’ best-known compositions, thanks in large part to Rod Stewart’s hit 1989 cover. Stewart’s version peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“She’s a Girl and I’m a Man” – Lloyd Cole (1991)

Quine was featured on four solo albums released by U.K. indie-pop artist Lloyd Cole from 1990 to 2001. Cole’s 1991 album, Don’t Get Weird on Me Babe, ends with a tune titled “She’s a Girl and I’m a Man” on which Quine not only played guitar, but also co-wrote with Cole.

The melodic pop-rock song features Quine chiming in with a bluesy solo in the middle of the tune. “She’s a Girl and I’m a Man” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

“Girlfriend” – Matthew Sweet (1991)

Quine was a major contributor to power-pop artist Matthew Sweet’s lauded 1991 album. He playing lead guitar on 10 of the record’s 15 tracks, and also appears on one other tune.

The album’s title track is highlighted by Quine’s inspirational riffing and soloing throughout. The song is one of Sweet’s signature tunes, enjoying success on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Tracks charts. It peaked at No. 4 and No. 10, respectively.

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