Given the amount of music available to me via streaming services, I feel I should be discovering a lot more new music than I actually am. Where do you begin when faced with infinite choice?
To reboot my exploration of music, I am going to pick a deliberately quirky theme every week or so and rummage around on Spotify to find tracks I like that fit the theme. I will publish the resulting playlists here.
The first theme is instrumental tracks from vocal artists and groups.
The Brazilian, Genesis
This one turned up in the recent film, Palm Springs, as background music. From the 1986 album, Invisible Touch, it's a relentless synth and drum machine groove with intervals of uplifting melody.
Journey of the Sorcerer, The Eagles
I'm sure I'm not alone in knowing this for many years only as the theme tune to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Most of the band weren't keen on this banjo-led track appearing on the 1975 album, One of These Nights. It did in the end, but the song's writer, Bernie Leadon, was miffed enough to pour a beer over Glen Frey's head and quit the group, taking his banjo with him.
Pride of Petravore, Lankum
A traditional Irish tune under attack by wave after wave of zombies. Glorious. From Lankum's 2019 album, The Livelong Day.
Embryonic Journey, Jefferson Airplane
More of a solo effort from lead guitarist, Jorma Kaukonen, but he sounds like at least two guitarists playing at once. From Jefferson Airplane's second album, Surrealistic Pillow, 1967.
An instrumental track that makes wordless use of ABBA's finely-honed vocal harmonies. It's no surprise that this tune became a staple of pipe band repertoire.
The Lonesome Boatman, The Fureys
Never has the tin whistle sounded so eloquent. Finbar Furey composed the melody in 1968 and tried for a long time to fit words to it before recording it as an instrumental.
Lightning Song, Queens of the Stone Age
A hard rock band unplugs.
Root Beer Rag, Billy Joel
The film, The Sting, revived ragtime music for a spell in the 1970s. Billy Joel proved his piano man chops by composing a new ragtime classic for his 1974 album, Streetlife Serenade.
Oscillate Wildly, The Smiths
A Johnny Marr mix of piano and guitar, with Morrissey contributing just the title (squint and you can see Oscar Wilde). It was the B-side of the single, How Soon Is Now and didn't appear on any of their four studio albums.
Sabrosa, Beastie Boys
If you were looking for some wah wah and bongos to soundtrack your next heist, look no further. One of many laidback instrumentals from the Beasties.
Intro, The XX
The XX didn't tuck this away as a B-side. It's the first track on their debut album and its use in commercials and TV programmes has earned it more plays on Spotify than any other of the band's songs.
Too well known to specifically call out but the list wouldn't be complete without Jessica by The Allman Brothers and Albatross by Fleetwood Mac.