Saturday, 15 August 2015

From Inside The Pod Revisited #11

I think I may have been getting a little bored by the time I reached Pod 26; I was trying a few different things to keep it interesting. The idea of an instrumental post had floated around for a lttle while, if I recall. In fact, I've even thought about a weekly instrumental series on this blog. That may still happen.

As always, everything that follows replicates the original post word-for-word. Pun not intended...

Pod 26: Not A Word
(first published February 2012)

Another experiment.  Over the 18 months I've been doing this, I have featured an array of great instrumental tracks. Regardless of whether vocals or lyrics are good or bad, some amazing musicianship has been oft overlooked owing to the prominence of a vocal.  That's why I like  instrumental versions of songs.  They can sometimes reveal elements of a track you never knew were there, hidden as they are behind voices.

I've scoured my hard drives and come up with a small, yet interesting selection of instrumental tunes.  These are all 'proper' instrumentals rather than instrumental versions and, despite the absence of words, there are some top-notch tracks here including one or two you may be familiar with (if not the versions featured).

1. Plank! La Luna [2010, Plank! EP]
What I know about Plank! you could write on a postage stamp.  I think they're from Manchester and they've released just one single and an EP.  The only other thing I can tell you is that La Luna is a brilliant track.  That rolling bass line in particular gets me every time.

2. Stereolab Get Carter [1998, Aluminium Tunes]
Stereolab were never averse to a good instrumental tune.  Here, they take on the theme to the classic (though oddly much maligned at the time) British gangster movie 'Get Carter'.  'Tis one that has been tackled numerous times with the likes of the Horrors, the Human League and Primal Scream all having a go, though Roy Budd's original is hard to beat.

3. Rico Rodriguez Gunga Din [1976, Man From Wareika]
The word 'legend' just doesn't do trombonist Rico Rodriguez justice - he's so much more than that.  He was there at the birth of ska in the late 50s and has been a part of the evolving Jamaican music scene ever since, desipte moving to London in the 1960s. Prominent in the UK ska revival in the early 80s (as a part-time member of the Specials), Rico still performs at the age of 77.

4. Senseless Things Apache [1992, Ruby Trax (NME charity album)]
London's Senseless Things released some dead-good singles in the early 90s, in particular Got It At The Delmar and Homophobic Asshole.  This contribution to NME's charity covers album 'Ruby Trax' demonstrated the heavier sound of their third album.  The Shadows never did it this way. Take it away Hank...

5. Julianna Barwick Prizewinning [2011, The Magic Place]
A dubious inclusion some might think. Why? Because Julianna Barwick's instrument of choice is... her voice. The majority of sounds on her debut record 'The Magic Place' were made vocally, though she doesn't necessarily 'sing'.  It's an intriguing twist to the instrumental which is why I've included one of her tracks here.

6. BB King Just Like A Woman [(c.1961/2) 1991, Spotlight On Lucille)
In the early 60s, BB King recorded a number of instrumental songs over various studio sessions.  Many of them lay unreleased for many years until compiled in 1991 on Spotlight On Lucille (Lucille being his guitar). It's a record that really does highlight the skills of the great man, illustrating why he is revered as one of the most important R&B and blues musicians of all time.

7. The Ventures Nutty/Rock Nuts [1966, Where The Action Is]
Officially the most successful instrumental band ever.  The Ventures have sold in excess of 100 million records and are cited as one of the most influential acts on modern rock music with everyone from George Harrison, Ray Davies and Jimmy Page to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brian May and the Ramones citing them as inspiration.  This is  a song that bore two titles depending on the version and is a take on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

8. Amiina Mambó [2010, Puzzle]
Originally an all-female string quartet who performed with Sigur Rós, Amiina have since become a 'proper' band utilising a multitude of instruments and, more recently, their voices.  Amiina were the very last act to collaborate with the late, great Lee Hazlewood (on the track 'Hilli') prior to his passing in 2007.  This track is taken from their second album.

9. Y Niwl Wyth [2010, Y Niwl]
Yes, a Welsh surf-guitar band.  You may not believe it but Wales has a thriving surf scene.  It's not Hawaii or Bondai Beach - it's a darn-sight chillier for starters - but true surfers don't let that worry them.  With Y Niwl (translation: The Fog), a band who recently both supported and backed Gruff Rhys, they now have a band to provide their soundtrack.

10. Bob Crewe & Charles Fox The Sex Machine [1968, Barbarella!!! Soundtrack]
Sophia Loren turned down the part of Barbarella, while Jane Fonda wished she had.  Or so the story goes.  A critical and commercial failure at the time, 'Barbarella!!!' has since found cult status among those of us who like camp, tongue-in-cheek psychedelic nonsense.  Its soundtrack tickles too, a cross between lounge music and psychedelia, but it's entirely fitting.  This track soundtracks the Excessive Machine scene which acts as a splendid example of what this daft movie was about. (You may need to sign into YouTube as for some reason it's deemed a little 'saucy'...)

'Nuff said - now listen!

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