One of the biggest strengths that comes with rock songs is the lyrics. Since you have the music to back you up, you've now got a platform where you can speak your mind and let out all of the frustration you have with the world in song. You have a lot of opportunities whenever you sit down to write the lyrics, but some of the best songs don't need words to get you hooked.
Granted, it's a little bit more difficult to write about a song that literally doesn't have anything to say. Now that you only have the instrumentation to focus on, you really have to pay attention to how the rest of the band work off each other in a live setting. In most of these cases though, this isn't just a few minutes of musical flexing either.
The musicians behind these songs put a lot of thought and care into these tracks like they would with every other song they made, packing in enough musical hooks into the song that would normally be reserved for the vocals. Compared to the little bit of instrumental that bands used to kick off an album, these are the kind of standalone songs that could have been hits on their own without the singer showing up. You can sing along if you want to, but you don't need to worry about getting the words right here.
10. Moby Dick - Led Zeppelin
Since instrumentals don't have any lyrics to fall back on, you're going to have to zero in one instrument. Melody has to come from somewhere, so you normally end up sinking in with the guitar player or trying to find some keyboard line that sticks out in the mix. Towards the end of Moby Dick though, we had a virtual drum clinic given to us by the late Bonzo.
Compared to the rest of Led Zeppelin II, Moby Dick actually feels somewhat ahead of its time, taking the sinister side of the blues a bit further and making for a riff that sounds like it could fit just as well on a Rage Against the Machine record. That's only for the first half of the song though, until the rest of the band drops out and John Bonham demolishes his drum kit, going for fast runs and technical fills that feel like they're attributed to the sounds of jazz than down and dirty rock and roll.
From day one, Bonham was always a primal sort of player, so the song takes things up a notch during the back half of his solo, where he abandons the sticks altogether and just decides to bang the drums with nothing but his four limbs to keep the groove going. Even without the sticks to fall back on, there's never a moment during this solo where you feel like he loses an ounce of power. The sticks were just an extension, but the force behind it is something that comes from deep in your soul.