When the rest of the world seemed to give up on Adams sometime around 2004, something funny happened: He became a truly incredible guitar player. 2005's Cold Roses and Jacksonville City Nights brought the point to light. And his constant touring with the Cardinals since those LPs were released has proved it. Blending the good things about the Grateful Dead (hey, there were some) with country, folk, metal, and punk, Adams has quietly turned into a songwriting/guitar-playing genius while no one's really been paying attention. Check out any recent bootleg by Ryan and the Cards and your jaw will drop. The boy can play. BRIAN T. SMITH

Greg Ginn of Black Flag

One of the first blatant rejections of major label guitar wankery was the stream-of-consciousness playing of Greg Ginn. A founding member of Black Flag, Ginn was guided by the unlikely influence of free jazz and "expressive" styles like that of Thelonious Monk that actually forsook proper notes and scales for those that were technically "wrong," but had greater impact. Ginn was a power player, wielding a solid-body Ampeg Lucite guitar and using solid-state amps. His wild anti-solos influenced just about everybody that would succeed him, including Kurt Cobain, Joey Santiago, and every kid who has ever ripped out three chords for a few bucks of gas money and free beer. LANCE CHESS