I’m only going to list instrumental songs by artists who primarily perform non-instrumental work, otherwise I could sit here all day listing Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani songs. There are in no particular order.
- Rush: YYZ – one of the first instrumental songs I remember from when I started really paying attention to music in the early 80’s, and still stands to me as the quintessential rock instrumental song.
- Alice in Chains: Whale and Wasp – Combines a beautiful acoustic guitar (the “whale”) with the occasional screeching electric guitar (the “wasp”). Listening to this song was the inspiration for this list.
- Triumph: Fingertalkin’ – An outstanding acoustic guitar piece by Rik Emmett, one of the best guitarists in any genre. Too bad it’s on what was probably Triumph’s worst album, “Progressions of Power”.
- Metallica: The Call of Ktulu – The opening sounds like two guitars playing together, but it’s only one. If they replaced Orion (also an excellent song) and Leper Messiah on Master of Puppets with this song and Creeping Death, Puppets would be the perfect metal album.
- Linkin Park: Session – the sole “electronic” entry on this list, complete with record scratches. In general I’m not big on this kind of stuff, but this song is very cool.
- Rush: La Villa Strangiato – over nine minutes long, and features some amazing guitar work from Alex Lifeson. I still think he’s the least musically talented member of Rush, but he ain’t no slouch either.
- Steely Dan: East St. Louis Toodle-oo – Somebody cranked the wah-wah pedal up to eleven for this one.
- Pink Floyd: One of These Days – Technically shouldn’t qualify because there are lyrics – right in the middle someone says in a very distorted voice “One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces”. But David Gilmour plays some pretty sweet slide guitar.
- The Tea Party: Winter Solstice – two acoustic guitars and someone tapping on what sounds like a wooden block. Some of the fastest strumming you’ll ever hear.
- Porcupine Tree: Wedding Nails – Kick-ass guitar over a driving bass / drum beat.
Runners-up: Songs that I had listed originally but then I kept thinking of more.
- Sarah McLachlan: Last Dance
- Metallica: Orion
- The Tea Party: The Badger
- Yes: Mood For A Day