Definition of a riff: “A short repeated phrase in popular music and jazz, frequently played over changing chords or harmonies or used as a background to a solo improvisation”
Like me you may have wondered how a tune like “Apache” by the Shadows can be classed as a riff when it’s an instrumental?
The same goes for “Misirlu” by Dick Dale, “Rumble” by Link Ray and “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes. Also “Peter Gunn” by Duane Eddy (although the melody is pretty much just a repeated riff so maybe that one should be allowed on the list).
And then there are the tunes relying on repetitive phrasing like Television‘s “Marquee Moon”, Chuck Berry‘s “Johnny B Goode”, and the “shave and a haircut” rhythm in the eponymous “Bo Diddley”.
And there were some that made me scratch my head as to why they’d been included e.g. Queen of the Stone Age‘s “No one knows“.
But a good idea for a radio programme and something to argue over in the pub!
If you didn’t hear the riffs the first time round they are all here.