Let me start by saying that I don’t have patience with instrumental music. If it’s Jazz and I’m in the mood for it than fine, but instrumental Rock music is really not my cup of tea. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, coincidentally two songs from the same band: Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato” and “YYZ”.
I love Van Halen’s “Eruption” or “316” and Yes’ “The Clap” and “Mood For a Day” but they are more cool guitar (or acoustic guitar) solos than actual instrumental music.
Not even Metal instrumental music I can stand: Maiden’s “Transylvania”, “Gengis Khan” and “Losfer Words” or Metallica’s “Anesthesia”, “The Call Of Ktulu” or “Orion”. I don’t like any of them.
Therefore, if I don’t have patience with instrumental music, let alone instrumental albums. However, when thought hard about it, I manage to find four that I really like. Yes, four, I couldn’t find another to transform this post in one of my famous Top 5 blog entries.
As one last observation before actually getting to the rank itself: these are guitar players INSTRUMENTAL albums. So any Malmsteen, Hendrix or Axel Rudi Pell album is out (they all have songs with vocals in it.)
#4: Jeff Beck – Blow by Blow:
I’m not a huge Jeff Beck fan. Of course he’s great, genius and stuff, but I’m not a big fan of his songs, except when he was accompanied by Rod Stewart on the “Beck-Ola” and “Truth” albums. Those are wonderful. But when it comes to his instrumental stuff, I find it too experimental for my taste. But this album has one thing that makes me like it: “Cause We Ended as Lovers”. That’s a wonderful Stevie Wonder composition, written specially for Beck and it makes the album worth alone. Not even the instrumental version of The Beatles’ “She’s a Woman” in the same album is so good.
#3: Joe Satriani – The Extremist:
Probably the greatest achievement of an instrumental album is at least one song you can sing the melodies along too. And “The Extremist” possesses just that in the brilliant “Summer Song”. I can clearly remember seeing the video on MTV back in the day and not being able to get its melodies out of my head. That’s why I went on and bought the album. Of course, at first I only listened to “Summer Song” over and over again, but later on I could find some other cool moments on the album like “Motorcycle Driver” and “Cryin”.
#2: Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien
Yep, here’s Mr. Satch again. As soon as I bought “The Extremist” I started to dig into Satriani’s career and found this gem. This one was released in 1987 and attained Platinum status in February 1992. And it’s not difficult to see why. Besides all Satriani musical talent, he again managed to write two songs that you can actually sing along to. They are like instrumental songs with choruses: “Satch Boogie” and the perfect “Always With Me, Always With You”. As a bonus, this record also sports one of the coolest record covers ever.
#1: Steve Vai – Passion And Warfare
If a nice instrumental record has at least one song you can sing along to, than this one is almost an aberration. You can sing along to at least three of the songs here and even have fun with the hilarious “The Audience is Listening”. But back to the three songs you can hum, they are “Liberty”, “I Would Love To” and “For The Love Of God” (probably the greatest guitar player instrumental song of all time). Just like with Satriani’s “Summer Song” I clearly remember watching the “For The Love Of God” video on MTV in awe. And even the other songs are not dull. There are also pretty cool moments in “The Riddle” , “Blue Powder”, “Erotic Nightmares” and “Ballerina 12/24”. It says a lot about the quality of this album that it was recorded in 1990 and not even his own author came close to match its quality in subsequent releases.
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