Feb 112013

Since rock instrumentals don’t provide a whole lot of vocals, I will spare you any summaries of the contestants in this battle. If the song titles and tunes don’t immediately match up in your mind’s ear, click the following videos and help us determine—once and for all—the Best Rock Instrumental of the 1960s.

The Ventures, “Walk Don’t Run”

The Tornados, “Telstar”

The Sufaris, “Wipe Out”

Booker T & the MGs, “Green Onions”

The Shadows, “Apache”

Cliff Nobles & Co., “The Horse”

The Bar-Kays, “Soul Finger”

Booker T & the MGs, “Time Is Tight”

Young-Holt Unlimited, “Soulful Strut”

Dick Dale, “Miserlou”

What is the Best Rock Instrumental of the 1960s?

  • Booker T & the MGs, "Green Onions" (36%, 16 Votes)
  • Booker T & the MGs, "Time Is Tight" (16%, 7 Votes)
  • The Tornados, "Telstar" (11%, 5 Votes)
  • The Surfaris, "Wipeout" (11%, 5 Votes)
  • Dick Dale, "Miserlou" (9%, 4 Votes)
  • The Bar-Kays, "Soul Finger" (7%, 3 Votes)
  • The Shadows, "Apache" (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Young-Holt Unlimited, "Soulful Strut" (4%, 2 Votes)
  • The Ventures, "Walk Don't Run" (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Cliff Nobles & Co., "The Horse" (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 45

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  25 Responses to “Once and For All: Best Rock Instrumental of the 1960s”

  1. Although “Time Is Tight” is my favorite instrumental of the decade, I’ve got to go with “Green Onions” as the best of the bunch.

  2. Walk Don’t Run, but if my wife finds out that I didn’t vote for Green Onions, the shit is going to hit the fan.

  3. I have to go with Hip Hug Her for my favorite BTMG track.

    Off topic but whats with the dj in the Cliff Nobles video calling himself the Boss with the Hot Sauce? As much as Jerry Blavit annoys me, didn’t he get there first?

  4. Suburban kid

    There’s no way that Misirlou doesn’t win, since it it the best rock instrumental of all time, and not just from the 60s.

    Oh wait, it hasn’t even been nominated. WTF.

  5. Just added it, Suburban kid. I’m one of those idiots who has trouble placing instrumental titles to the tunes. On the strength of the performance alone this is a STRONG contender!

  6. Mr. Mod, you sure added some great contenders to the list I provided; this will take some serious consideration.

    Here’s a little factoid that I only learned about 9 years ago; maybe it will be new to others. Young-Holt Unlimited’s “Soulful Strut debuted on the charts on November 30, 1968, staying on the charts for 13 weeks and peaking at #3. It actually charted again, though, as the instrumental track for Barbara Acklin’s “Am I The Same Girl” which debuted on the charts a few months later on February 22, 1969, lasting only 3 weeks and peaking at #79.


    I learned of this because “Am I The Same Girl” was covered by a little known band called King Radio on their 2004 album “Are You The Sick Passenger?”. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this album on RTH before. If it’s not my favorite album released in the last 10 years it’s in the top 3.

  7. Suburban kid

    That’s a good live version, Mod. The best one is the original recording, the one later used on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

  8. Please don’t remind me of the song’s association with Tarantino:) I’m glad I could get that song in the running.

  9. bostonhistorian

    This version of Booker-Loo is the best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kgBgX5HsqU

  10. jeangray

    OMG! I never realized that “Gangnam Style” is actually “The Horse.”

  11. jeangray

    “Soul Finger” kicks all y’all’s asses!

  12. misterioso

    It’s tremendous, of course. You might, or might not, also like this, which is, as far as I know, the earliest recording of the song, from the late 20s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWei99ZQBhQ I think it is magnificent, too, in its own right, even if not quite rock and roll.

  13. misterioso

    I got two words for ya: Classical Gas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhMuCiAe6vA

  14. misterioso

    However, it is the absence of Beck’s Bolero that causes me to wonder what is going on here. I demand an investigatory commission be formed at once.

  15. bostonhistorian

    There are a bunch of surf instrumentals I like as much, if not more, than Misirlou. Pipeline, for one, is better in my book.

  16. I mentioned “Time is Tight” when you put out the thread seeking nominations. I didn’t hear anything that changes that opinion but I love the white Fender playing the open E string with everything else in darkness image that opens the “Miserlou” clip.

  17. cliff sovinsanity

    As much as it pains me not to chose Green Onions, I’m voting for Wipe Out. It’s the abandoned thrill of the whole project. The wild drumming, which every aspiring drummer has given the old college try, is furious but always tight. The guitar playing has the double task of laying down the familiar melody but also let’s loose in just the right measure.
    Dare I say this song may be the true birth of garage rock !?

  18. cliff sovinsanity

    Oh gawd, I was worried someone would dredge this abomination up from filthiest sewer in all of Hades. Let this not influence your pick.

  19. I cannot believe Grazing in the Grass and Hip Hug Her aren’t on this list. I can believe the Small Faces Happy Boys Happy is not here, as well as Beck’s Bolero, but I still think those are tremendous.

  20. Oh, and Jack Nitzche’s Lonely Surfer is pretty iconic.

  21. I considered “Grazing in the Grass,” but I think the vocal version is the better-known and better of the 2 versions. The instrumental is cool, but I always want to hear The Friends of Distinction singing real fast.

    “Hip Hug Her” just missed the cut. Every year some fan favorite just misses the cut.

    “Beck’s Bolero” would have made for a good change of pace, but I was trying to stick to Al’s initial limitation of chart-topping instrumentals. Was that ever an actual hit song?

  22. misterioso

    Did all of the others top the charts?

  23. By “top” I mean landed in the Top 40. I don’t know, and I am not the guy around here most likely to verify chart details. My bad, as they say, if the shoe fits.

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