This is a list of favourite instrumental tracks. The premise for this is quite simple: The band in question have to usually perform with vocals. That would omit some bands and artists from genres that normally can only be considered instrumental – jazz, surf, electro, funk and so on. This is in no particular order of preference:
Unrest – Hydrofoil (1991)
Now there are several versions of this tune, some with vocals. The clip below doesn’t, but weighs in at a limp 7 minutes. I have a 12″ version of this song and it’s 45 glorious minutes long of one almost locked groove. It’s like a test of endurance and the best jam-session you’ve ever heard. The rhythm stays on the same steady course but kicks out occasionally and does something ace. It’s both hypnotic and head-noddingly good.
Hoover – Route 7 (1994)
From the album ‘Lurid Traversal of Route 7″ this tune is really a footnote to an intense, angsty punk record. It plays out the first side of the album and is beautiful, elegant counterpoint to the intensity of the other songs.
Fugazi – Brendan #1 (1990)
Fugazi being epic, as they always were?). Also did a mostly instrumental album which were instrumental or demo versions of other tunes. This tune isn’t done justice by the sound quality on the video – it’s the first song – but you can hear the studio version here. A gig outside the White House is something pretty special in any band’s book, and almost impossible to imagine now in a post-9/11 world.
Yo La Tengo – And the Glitter is Gone (2009)
A 15 minute drone and feedback fest, YLT style. Certainly not by any means their best song, but as a pointer to what they do best, it’s very good.
John Spencer Blues Explosion – R.L. Got Soul (1996)
This is not technically an instrumental – John Spencer spends half the (studio) song giving it his usual “Yay-uh” but let’s face it, John Spencer does that on pretty much every one of his songs. It might even be a reflex reaction whenever he’s near a microphone. I can quite easily see him standing watching a gig and shouting out – Tourette’s like – “Yay-uh bloooooooooooooz explo-zhuuuuuuun.” The fucker can’t help himself. JSBX really should’ve done more of these tunes, it might’ve even preserved their shelf life as a band. Quite possibly the best instrumental (ever?) is actually a remix of John Spencer’s ‘Greyhound’, done by Moby, of all people. Give it a listen, it is momentous. The original tune is first up below, ‘R.L.’s Got soul is on at about 6’15” below: