Instrumental Rock Pt. 1

Let me let you in on one of rock n roll ‘ s biggest secrets…

Not everyone writes lyrics for songs graduated college with a degree in literature.

In fact, it is a widely well known assertion that a great number of those mouthpieces for bands you may well love, may not have attended college at all. May also have barely completed high school for that matter.

At the heart of rock n roll is that rebel spirit, that outlaw feel, that anyone can do it and rise to the level of success of say, Sex Pistols, Nirvana, or U2, despite a lack of education.

But I have to confess, sometimes the angsty turns of phrases and rhymes of these folks gets on my tits. Sometimes the lyrical magic just one level above “moon-spoon-June” insults what little intellect I may have left now, in my rock n roll addled and long-past-drug-burnt-out braincells and eardrums.

Sometimes when I listen to music, that’s all I want to hear, just music, instrumental music. Just guitars, bass and drums, etc. Sometimes cinematic, sometimes moody. Sometimes rushing, sometimes furious, but always engaging, with no pesky bad rhymes or odd opinion lyrically spun over the melody.

Heck, there was a time even when instrumental music was top ten, both here in the states, as well as the U.K.
Following the death of greats like Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, rock music lagged a little in the charts. A gap was created for a saccharine version to rise to the top, thus we have the likes of Pat Boone doing tame cover versions of tunes by Little Richard.

And into this time came the rise of instrumental rock, lead by the likes of Link WrayThe Ventures, Johnny & the Hurricanes, and The Shadows. For a couple of years this form was so popular that every high school band hoping to play a sock hop or battle of the band’s at a county fair had to have songs like “Walk Don’t Run” and “Apache” in their repertoire.

The fame and fortunes of these instro rockers were easily dashed when four lads from Liverpool hit the world stage with a love and enthusiasm for rock n roll, that struck a chord with nearly everyone who heard them. Suffice to say, they did all right…and become the most successful and influence band in rock history.

If by now you are a bit intrigued and want to explore the world of instrumental rock, here are a few records I can recommend, in no particular order.

5 Instrumental Rock Albums Worth Hearing

Mickey Baker “The Wildest Guitar”
A jazz and r ‘n’ b guitarist, and on this album tweaks popular faves such “The Third man theme”, “Baia” & “Autumn leaves” with string bending pleasure.

Tom Verlaine “Warm & Cool”
On this album the guitarist known better to some for “Marquee Moon” concentrates on jazzy cinematic soundscapes, that evoke moods and lift spirits.

Link Wray ” Early Recordings”
The instigator of intro rock. This is a collection of early tracks, as the title implies. Often imitated, never better. His guitar sound resonates into the future.

Poltergeist “Your Mind Is A Box”
Will Sergeant, guitarist for Echo and the Bunnymen, steps away from post-punk to explore some prog and extended song structure. Guitar driven and little bit over the top.

David Axelrod “Song of experience”
A psychedelic jazz hybrid. He was more the conductor and composer here, thus a lightning rod for the musicians with which he surrounded himself to record this masterpiece.