Who needs vocals when you have musical instruments, right? That’s what many musicians think as well. Instrumental albums are great for many things, for example listening to music with lyrics while working or working out can be distracting, but instrumental albums suit that purpose just fine.
Recently folks at Ultimate Guitar received close to 450 comments and a healthy chunk of votes, all of which have been neatly summed up into a lovely little Top 25 rundown.
Before kicking things off, they pointed out that honorable mentions include Rodrigo y Gabriela’s self-titled album, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” (as well as “My Favorite Things”), Al Di Meola and “Elegant Gypsy,” The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out,” John Petrucci and “Suspended Animation,” CHON’s “Grow,” Jeff Beck and “Blow by Blow,” Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene,” Intervals and “The Shape of Colour” and Eric Johnson’s “Ah Via Musicom.”
25. Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters
Kicking off the list, Mr. Herbie Hancock, “Head Hunters” album, “Chameleon” opening track. You folks decided to give a bit of love to the jazz icon and this fusion jazz funk piece, and we certainly don’t mind. The album was released in October 1973, marking the man’s 12th studio effort.
24. Russian Circles – Empros
Up next are US post-metal boys Russian Circles with their fourth studio album “Empros.” You folks gave two other RC efforts a bit of love too – “Geneva” and “Enter.”
23. The Aristocrats – The Aristocrats
Up next is the record that announced the arrival of The Aristocrats – their 2011 self-titled debut. This was merely the first step of the wild ride Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller, and Marco Minnemann put us on.
22. Camel – The Snow Goose
If you like classic ’70s prog and music inspired by Paul Gallico’s novella “The Snow Goose,” then Camel’s “The Show Goose” is for you. The band initially wanted to write about Hermann Hesse’s, “Siddhartha,” but quickly changed their mind. Due to copyright tensions, the record was technically named “Music Inspired by The Snow Goose,” and all lyrics were abandoned as too legally iffy.
21. Mogwai – The Hawk Is Howling
Shifting to modern times and post-rock, Mogwai are up next with their 2008 album “The Hawk Is Howling.” Marking the band’s sixth studio album, it’s the first time the gang embarked on a fully instrumental musical journey
20. Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Released in February 1992, “Selected Ambient Works 85-92” is the very first full-length studio effort from electronic giant Aphex Twin. The effort itself is labeled as ambient techno…
19. Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy VIII OST
MisterJazzHands, who nominated the “Final Fantasy VIII” soundtrack, had this to say: “This is nerdy as hell, but I really want to give the OST for ‘Final Fantasy 8’ some love here. The theming on it is masterful, leitmotifs are used in some of the most brilliant ways I’ve ever heard, and it actually influenced the way I write in a big way. It’s genius. Nobuo Uematsu is basically the Beethoven of video games.”
18. Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame
Fusion time again! “The Inner Mounting Flame” is the debut album of the mighty Mahavishnu Orchestra. Released in August 1971, it features instrumental music entirely composed by guitar mastermind John McLaughlin, as well as drum mastery of the one and only Billy Cobham.
17. Frank Zappa – Jazz From Hell
“Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar” also got a nice share of votes, but it’s 1986’s “Jazz From Hell” that gets to represent the legendary Frank Zappa this week. It’s Zappa on Frank Zappa on the Synclavier DMS for 35 minutes, what more can a music fan ask for?
16. Pelican – The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
Returning to the realm of post-metal, Chicago gang Pelican is up next with their sophomore studio effort – 2005’s “The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.” If you’re wondering about the peculiar title, it’s meant to be confusing. The effort was originally supposed to be called “Black Doom on Tuesday.” Oh, and note that Pelican’s “Australasia” also got a decent chunk of votes.
15. Plini – The End of Everything
Young guitar champion Plini is up next at No. 15 with last year’s “The End of Everything” EP, also featuring Mr. Marco Minnemann on drums. Voodoochile711 noted: “Plini deserves far more attention than he gets, the guy is such a monster musician and one of the most tasteful guitarists I’ve ever heard.”
14. Jaco Pastorius – Jaco Pastorius
This one has one song with vocals, but we’ll let it slide ’cause it’s JACO. Released in 1976, Jaco Pastorius’ self-titled solo record is up next – it’s the album that brought “Portrait of Tracy,” “Continuum,” and Jaco’s rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” to the world, ant that’s no mean feat.
13. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV
This week’s Lucky 13 goes to the nearly two-hour long Nine Inch Nails journey called “Ghosts I-IV.”
12. Buckethead – Electric Tears
You folks gave Buckethead some nice love, and it’s worth mentioning that “Giant Robot” and “Crime Slunk Scene” also got a fair share of the votes, but it’s “Electric Tears” that gets to represent Mr. Bucket this week. Released in 2002, this is only the ninth studio release from the man. Yes, nine is the number of albums Metallica has put out ion their entire career, but seeing that Buckethead packs 264 studio albums under his belt, nine does seem like a low number, doesn’t it?
11. Guthrie Govan – Erotic Cakes
Buckethead actually kicked off a nice string of guitar heroes on this list. At No. 11, it’s Guthrie Govan and his solo debut – 2006’s “Erotic Cakes.”
10. Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force
It’s a bit confusing that the “Rising Force” song wasn’t released on the “Rising Force” album, but so it happened. Cracking the Top 10 open, it’s Yngwie Malmssteen and his 1984 debut “Rising Force.” This is the album that brought Yngwie to the limelight of the shred world and landed him a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Performance.
9. Explosions in the Sky – The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place
Back to post-rock we go with Explosions in the Sky and their third studio album, 2003’s “The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place.” Ominous melodies and crashing climaxes are heavily present on the effort, which is often considered a conceptual record.
8. Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare
The album that put Steve Vai on the map as a serious guitar force, 1990’s “Passion and Warfare,” continues the rundown at No. 8. You folks branded this one a bonafide classic, and many people are likely to agree.
7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Another nomination by MisterJazzHand, who had this to say: “You really have to take the whole thing in at once to get it, but damn is it ever fantastic.” It’s Godspeed You! Black Emperor and their 2000 double album “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven.” The album’s tracks are composed of individually named internal movements, here’s what Wikipedia has to add:
“The inner panels of the vinyl edition released by Constellation Records contain a diagram used to illustrate the relative lengths of movements within the four tracks; each movement is drawn by Efrim Menuck as a rectangular block with its length determined by the proportion of the track it comprises. Some of the blocks are shifted slightly upwards to show an increase in intensity. The movement title and the numerical length are denoted either above or below the square. The same diagram is provided as a paper insert in the CD edition from Kranky Records.”
6. Animals as Leaders – Animals as Leaders
The latest Animals as Leaders album “The Joy of Motion” also got some love from you guys, but it’s “Animals as Leaders” that gets to represent Tosin Abasi and co. On this record, it’s all Tosin and Periphery guitar mastermind Misha Mansoor on production, engineering, programming, mixing, and mastering duties. Travislausch commented: “To me, this album is every bit as important to guitar-based instrumental music as Steve Vai’s and Joe Satriani’s works, and pretty much kicked off a new era of shred. And before anyone comes in saying I’m wrong, Steve Vai himself acknowledged this in a Guitar World interview a few years back (where he appeared with Tosin on the cover).”
5. Jason Becker – Perpetual Burn
In 1987, Jason Becker and Marty Friedman released “Speed Metal Symphony” as Cacophony. A year later, both Jason and Marty unveiled their solo debuts, “Perpetual Burn” and “Dragon’s Kiss.” Being good buddies they are, the boys made sure to make guest appearances on each other’s records, so you can hear Marty on three of the “Perpetual Burn” tracks, as well as on some of the production duties. Anyhow, Mr. Jason Becker at No. 5!
4. Joe Satriani – Surfing With the Alien
Bringing us a step closer to the Big 3, Joe Satriani is up next with “Surfing With the Alien,” the album that established the man as not just the guy who taught future guitar masters how to play, but a genuine guitar force on his own.
3. Liquid Tension Experiment – Liquid Tension Experiment
The bronze medal for this week goes to John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, Mike Portnoy, and Tony Levin, collectively known as prog metal force Liquid Tension Experiment.
2. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
You folks shared a lot of Miles love in the comments, as both “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew” got a fair share of votes, but it’s “Kind of Blue” that gets to represent the legend this week. Released way back in 1959, the record is unanimously hailed as possibly the greatest jazz effort of all time, as well as one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded.
1. Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
At the throne of UG this week, it’s Mike Oldfield and “Tubular Bells.” Often known as “The Exorcist” theme, the piece was recorded in 1972, when Mike was only 19 years old!