January 21, 2020 by Don Russo
Did you know today is Backwards Day? While delay effects have provided generations of guitarists with an easy way to take their tone to outer space, nothing turns your sound around like reverse delay. And since the occasion calls for looking at things from the other end, we’re going to dive into some of our favorite songs featuring reverse delay.
Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Beginning with a flurry of reversed sound, this song is a clear example of getting creative in the studio. In the video above, you can see the breakdown of the song, including some of the stresses of analog recording in the past. However, the star of this song was the churning reverse delay on his guitar, singular in its tone that grows in volume instead of trailing off like regular sustain. Of course, there’s more than just backwards guitar, but backwards drums and bass. To consider the fact that this song still holds together, and has quite a groove, is astounding.
Strawberry Swing by Coldplay
A brilliant example, as not only is there reverse delay, but it is the very foundation of the song, attached to the guitar riff that carries through the entire track. Joined by subdued but thundering drums and tender strings, this song manages to achieve a psychedelic tone while still keeping a steady beat.
Dig by Incubus
Jumping genres to 2000’s alt-rock, Incubus has always taken their guitar tones very seriously, winning an instantly recognizable sound, (thanks in no small part to the unique voice of singer Brandon Boyd as well). In this song, the reverse delay contributes in a stellar fashion to the emotional midsection of the track. Altogether, a great example of guitar effects in rock.
London Calling by The Clash
While only featuring in a hidden lead guitar tone, easily outshined by the banging rhythm and punky vocals, the reverse delay in this song demonstrates well how a single note, fluctuating and warping with the effect, can make a song come to life with a texture that connects otherwise separate song sections.
I’m Only Sleeping by The Beatles
George Harrison blew the world’s collective mind with a truly pioneering backwards guitar solo when this song released in 1966. Perfectly lending a dream-like quality to a song about sleep, and phasing in and out of consciousness, the reverse guitar solo is an inspiration in regards to what a well-placed, sparse, but effectually intentional lead guitar can do for a song’s composition.