For quite a while the only version of New Order’s Theives Like Us that I knew about was the instrumental version tucked away on a b side somewhere. When I eventually heard the full version, I was shocked at how a perfectly good and, dare I say it, bangin’ tune can be destroyed by a vocal track that sounds as if it was made up on the spot by a drunk at your local karaoke bar. It was like a tragically misjudged BBC move to add an Ed Sheeran vocal to Match of the Day. “Oh yeah it’s time to show some football…”.
It’s really, really hard to imagine well known “proper” songs without their vocals. Perhaps Every Breath You Take’s bassline and percussion is enough to be a great track? Probably not – it does seem like a “bed” for a warbler in chief, in this case, Mr Sting. Money Changes Everything is a lovely instrumental by the Smiths. Johnny Marr used if for a single with Bryan Ferry, who added lyrics and called it The Right Stuff. You remember how that goes, eh?
But what about Relight my Fire by Take That? Remove the vocal and it’s much, much better. Save a Prayer by Durran Duran – sod off Simon, it’s fine!
I’m running out of battery life so I won’t link It but Dave Clark (not that one) released an acoustic version of a Depeche Mode song, Dream On. No vocals – just the main groove of the song played on an acoustic guitar. Occasional noises float in and out. It’s much, much better than the original full song.
You may use this to insult a singer you don’t like – but the point is to find songs that didn’t need a vocal after all.