MAY: It's True 'Mental!


It's May, and the all-instrumental extravaganza continues. . .

"Return of the Birdland" by LINK WRAY
I would be remiss if I did a series of posts on great instrumentals and failed to mention Link Wray. More important to the electric guitar and perhaps rock itself than Jimi Hendrix, Wray has not yet been inducted in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. What the fuck?!

The Incredible Bongo Band were most well known for their hit (and oft-sampled) version of The Shadows' oft-covered "Apache." I'm fairly certain my introduction to this song came from one of my favorite sites, Diddy Wah.

In 1951, Ike Turner dropped his amp on the way to record "Rocket 88" with his Kings of Rhythm. The guitar distortion that resulted in his now faulty amp became the first of its kind laid to record, and rock was born. Ike put out some remarkable music in his career (he even appears on the last Gorillaz record), but it has always been overshadowed by his stormy relationship with -- and abuse of -- Tina Turner. It's a damn shame Ike couldn't have controlled himself a little better, because he is truly a legend otherwise. (CORRECTION: See Mark's comments below for further illumination of the subject.)

"Yesternow" by MILES DAVIS
While it's not much of a stretch to say that Miles Davis recorded a few instrumentals in his day, I'm including this particular track (side B of Davis's remarkable A Tribute to Jack Johnson album) because I think it's one of his most interesting and innovative pieces. Clocking in at over 25 minutes, this one is going to require your full attention, and maybe a few glasses of wine.

"Brendan #1"by FUGAZI
I posted about this song over two years ago. Here's what I had to say: "Brendan #1" is an instrumental from (Fugazi's) second album, REPEATER. This is one of the greatest rock records of all time, and if you don't own it, I cannot stress to you more how much you need to get out and buy this thing immediately. I picked it up as a Freshman in high school and it changed my life and my musical habits forever.

"Everglade" by TORTOISE
I could listen to this song, from Tortoise's 1998 album TNT, on a loop for hours. If you're ever in the Philadelphia area and find yourself at brunch at the Standard Tap, wander over to the jukebox and add this to the Sunday morning playlist. It's pretty much the perfect place on earth to hear this song.

"Rhubarb" by APHEX TWIN
Speaking of listening to something on a loop. . .

"Bittersweet Symphony" by THE VERVE
That I got to play the instrumental version of this Verve hit, along with The Zombies "This Will be Our Year," as the recessional music at my friend Andy's wedding will be a highlight of my life for years to come. Of course, having the bride's mother come up and demand Aerosmith & Run DMC's "Walk This Way" will be another highlight.

- Order Tortoise from their homempage.
- Ike don't need your help! But if you're bored, check out his site.
- Aphex Twin made the scariest video of all time
- Learn more about Link.
- Here's how The Verve got screwed and never made a dime off of one of the biggest singles of the past 30 years.
- Buy Fugazi from the label they created, Dischord.
- Here's a great review of the Miles Davis/Jack Johnson album.



mark said...

your comment concerning ike's guitar reminds me of marty robbins' recording of don't worry bout me.

from: http://www.martyrobbins.net/bio.htm

In July, 1961, Marty and a group of musicians were in the process of recording the song. Noted guitarist Grady Martin played the mid-song guitar solo, not realizing that a tube had blown in the taping mechanism. Playback revealed an odd fuzzy distortion of every note played on Grady's bass guitar. Instead of correcting the problem and rerecording, producer Don Law liked the sound and left it in. Don't Worry was a hit, in the #1 spot for ten weeks. The sound was later harnessed and has been used in recordings by many artists. To this day, it is known as "fuzztone".

mark said...

also it wasn't ike who played guitaron rocket 88, it was willie kizart.

from: http://www.bluesworld.com/Other.html
Willie Kizart--guitarist with Ike Turner, now deceased. He's the guitar player on "Rocket 88," Ike was on piano.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Nice work on the research, Mark. Thanks for the heads-up.