Top 10 Classic Rock Instrumentals

Fans at a rock concert

FlyingPete / Morguefile

A few groups and solo artists, especially in the Surf Rock sub-genre, made their careers almost entirely with instrumentals. A more interesting study is the instrumental work produced by typical Classic Rock bands who rarely strayed from an emphasis on voices and lyrics. These occasional forays into instrumental tracks on Classic Rock albums make great showcases of advanced musicianship.

Here are the top 10 instrumentals by classic Rock artists.

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Black Mountain Side

This is Led Zeppelin's instrumental version of a traditional folk song titled Blackwater Side. It appeared on the group's self-titled first album and showcases guitarist Jimmy Page's considerable skills. The arrangement is reminiscent of "White Summer" which Page wrote when he was in the Yardbirds. Led Zep often combined the two in their live performances.

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More so than most Classic Rock bands, the Allman Brothers weren't shy about working instrumental tracks into their albums and live shows, with titles usually containing a woman's name (Little Martha being another example.) Jessica, from the group's Brothers and Sisters album, captures the slide guitar, piano and percussion combination that defined their sound.

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The Edgar Winter Group's 1973 album They Only Come Out At Night features one of their best-known vocal hits, Free Ride. It also contains something of a rarity: an instrumental that was a commercial success. Frankenstein showcases Winters on keyboards, Rick Derringer and Ronnie Montrose on guitars, Dan Hartman's bass guitar and Chuck Ruff's amazing percussion. You'll have to listen several times to catch everything that's going on in this classic.

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Steamer Lane Breakdown

The Doobie Brothers were a hybrid of Southern Rock and Heavy Metal, but it is their Southern side that dominates here. This cut is on 1978's Minute By Minute and features the use of fiddle, banjo, and slide guitar elements that were characteristic of Southern Rock. I defy you to listen to it without tapping your feet, hands, fingers, or all of the above.

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Anji was written and recorded by guitarist Davey Graham in 1963, then recorded by Bert Jansch in 1965. Simon & Garfunkel's second album, 1966's Sounds Of Silence, contained Simon's flawless arrangement of this haunting, multi-layered melody. It is a testament to his virtuosity.

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Ginger Baker from Cream is why kids daydream about how cool it would be to play drums. Then they discover the intense physical and musical demands that are required and opt for something easier, like bench pressing 500 pounds. Baker's solo on this live version of Toad leaves no doubt as to his ranking as one of the rock's greatest drummers.

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Wring That Neck

Also known as "Hard Road," this cut first appeared on Deep Purple's Book of Taliesyn album, and was a fixture in their early live performances. It was composed by, and features, all of the band's members.

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Soul Sacrifice

Carlos Santana electrified the crowd at Woodstock with his performance, which featured this song from the band's first album, 1969's ​Santana. The CD includes both the studio and Woodstock performance versions.

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Outa Space

Billy Preston collaborated with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton, to name a few. This track shows why he has long been a highly sought after keyboard virtuoso.

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Traffic's opening track on their 1970 John Barleycorn Must Die album is cited by many fans as their favorite song of the group's fairly extensive catalog.