Sunday, 27 July 2008

Music, No Lyrics (#1)

Welcome to another regular series on Musicus Eclecticus, “Music, No Lyrics”, in which we look at some great instrumental tracks. Now, despite this blog generally having no rules whatsoever, in this case I’ve applied some specific criteria. I’ve eliminated classical music and dance music, purely because it’s usually devoid of words anyway, so there’s nothing unusual there. Besides which, you don’t really want me to start posting Scooter tracks, do you? (If you do, you’re in the wrong place).

Much more interesting are those tracks that either shaped the development of the instrumental (as in the first example, below), or instrumentals recorded by bands who aren’t normally associated with such things (as in our other two examples).

First up, is the godfather of guitar instrumentals, Link Wray. Link Wray (pictured) is credited with inventing distortion, by punching holes in the fronts of his amplifiers. He is also thought to have invented the power chord, which isn’t a bad claim to fame when you think about it… A formative influence on the likes of The Who and Led Zeppelin, nobody does it better than Link Wray did it.

Originally recorded in 1958, “Rumble” is an all-time rock ‘n’ roll classic. Bizarrely, it led to Wray being dropped by his label at the time (Cadence), who stated that the record was “promoting teenage gang warfare”, after label boss Archie Bleyer’s daughter remarked that it reminded her of the fight scenes in West Side Story. You couldn’t make it up.
In case you missed it, "Rumble" also cropped up on the soundtrack to Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, cementing its place in popular culture all over again.

Link Wray died in 2005 in his adopted home of Denmark, leaving behind an enormous and hugely important body of work.

Download: Link Wray – Rumble

Jumping forward a mere 38 years, this next record, from Scotland’s Teenage Fanclub comes from their wondrous Bandwagonesque album. An odd album title, as the Fanclub could never be accused of jumping on anyone else’s bandwagon. This dreamy album (think The Beach Boys on crack) contains a gem of an instrumental, “Satan”, which at less than a minute and a half, is short and sweet for sure, but nevertheless stands as one of the album’s undoubted highlights.

Download: Teenage Fanclub – Satan

Now, whilst it may be distinctly uncool to profess a liking for Metallica, frankly I don’t care. I grew up on a diet of Ride The Lightning and Master Of Puppets and I’ve never quite shaken the habit. Christ, I even bought St Anger.

Master Of Puppets is the album we’re dipping into here, for the epic “Orion” instrumental. Always a poignant track for diehard Metallica fans – it contains some of the late Cliff Burton’s finest ever bass playing – it builds through its eight minutes from a quiet(ish), chugging intro, through to a heavy, heavy finale.

Whatever your thoughts on Metallica, there is no denying the fact that they have been often imitated but never, ever bettered – and this track is just one of many examples which emphatically prove the point.

Download: Metallica – Orion

Well… what are you waiting for?


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