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Top 5 Instrumentals

September 28, 2013

Inspired by the instrumental side one of Neu! ’75…please hold all complaints about me foolishly overlooking some other essential lyric-less songs until the end!

#5: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins
Such an unexpected opener.  Beautiful title track (in the beautiful key of D flat major) from one of the great double LPs.

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#4: 1776 – Iced Earth
I initially had Eruption as my #4 as Eddie Van Halen’s work with an electric guitar isn’t exactly insignificant.
Then I remembered playing this tune with my cover band in university, such a fun song to play, a textbook 2nd set opener – I’m afraid nostalgia wins!

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#3: Aurora Borealis – Meat Puppets
Despite being released 30 years ago, it was new to me this yearI’m a Mindless Idiot would also be list-worthy.

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#2: Oscillate Wildly – The Smiths
Much as I love Morrissey, I can’t see a vocal track adding anything here.

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#1: YYZ – Rush
The spectacular musicianship is a given.
Besides, the song title references Pearson International Airport (in Morse Code no less!), how could it not be #1?

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11 Comments
  1. Ballsy choices here man. Much respect. Iced Earth? Way to dig deep! Never would have occurred to me if asked about greatest instrumentals (although makes perfect sense).

    I’m just flying from the seat of my pants here but here goes:

    5. Talas – NV 43345
    4. Zep – Moby Dick
    3. Rush – 2112 Overture
    2. Beatles – Flying
    1. Van Halen – Eruption

    Man that’s hard.

    • Thank you sir! There’s some other good ones out there with ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ but I attempted to define instrumental as no vocal whatsoever.

      I have no objections with your list (not familiar with Talas, I’ll have to explore) and as with all top 5s, my list would likely be very different tomorrow!

      • The Talas track is the bass equivalent of Van Halen’s Eruption. It’s Billy Sheehan doing his bass thing, every trick in his book…a lot of fun. No surprise David Lee Roth pulled Sheehan for his solo band!

        My list could be different tomorrow based on what I am listening to. I mean, I could have picked Zeppelin’s Braun-Yr-Aur. I could have picked Frankenstein…Deep Purple…

        I like your criteria for no “oohs” and “ahhs”. That would eliminate a few Deep Purples actually.

    • The beauty of the Rush instrumentals is that they can get that full sound out of just the trio!

  2. Interesting list! Nice and varied. Ok, here’s mine… off the top of my head in no real order and it’ll probably change tomorrow!
    Iron Maiden -Losfer Words
    KISS – Escape From the Island
    Deep Purple – Wring That Neck
    Riot – Narita
    and… Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme!

  3. The fluctuating top 5 I think is half the fun – as is learning about all these other instrumental tunes, I’ll check them out and report back!

  4. Yes, YYZ, of course, hands down.

    Here are some probably no-one reading this has heard of: The Swedish band Tribute (which, at one point, included Pierre Moerlen, after Mike Oldfield went pop and he wanted to continue playing good music—what a combination that was!) had only a few songs with lyrics; most were instrumentals. Their side-long “New Views” is great. About “Diesel Engine”, one writer remarked that if it were by Stanley Clarke, a) everyone would know it and b) remark how great it was.

    My vote for the best overlooked group of all time. Many great songs (mostly instrumentals).

    I understand that some of the members now play in Swedish Irish-folk bands.

    http://www.discogs.com/Tribute-New-Views/release/369217

    • I had not heard of Tribute – any group that does a side-long instrumental is definitely worth a listen, thanks for the recommendation!

      • I saw them a few times back in the 80s. There is a video on YouTube (probably dodgy quality) of “New Views” (the song) at the Markthalle in Hamburg. I was there, and near the front. Not sure if I’m in the video though.

        They originally formed as a covers band, hence the name “Tribute”, but anyone writing music this good should be playing his own.

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