The Five Spot: Five Bona Fide Bangers That Utilize Bagpipes

The Five Spot: Five Bona Fide Bangers That Utilize Bagpipes

The bagpipes are an age-old wind instrument, with a long and storied history dating back to pre-Ancient Rome, possibly more than 1000 years B.C.

Yet it’s an instrument rarely implemented in popular modern music outside of Celtic-leaning rock bands like Dropkick Murphy’s or folk acts like The Chieftans.

Sure, maybe you get Paul McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre” once upon a time or an odd Peter Gabriel song every now and again.

But can you name five bagpipe-infused tracks that actually bang?

The Wudder seems to think so.

Agree/Disagree/Add-On Below.


The Roots “Do You Want More?!!!??!”

As if the Legendary Roots Crew from Philadelphia needed any more ground to break or cover while recording their Geffen Records major-label debut in 1993 back when the label was still printing Nirvana money, only to see that gravy train derail itself in April 1994. By the time Do You Want More?!!!??! dropped we found the first known use of bagpipes on a rap record coexisting comfortable with drums, keys, battle raps, beat-box and vocal scratch. Encore. Nearly 22 years later, we still want more.

Eric Burdon and The Animals “Sky Pilot”
By 1968, the famed mid-60’s British Invasion rock band The Animals (It’s My Life, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood), led by their mercurial lead singer Eric Burdon, had moved to San Francisco and were being billed as Eric Burdon and The Animals. A few months after this song became their last major hit, the group split. Burdon, one of the most underrated rock singers ever to this day, then went on to join forces with then-largely-unknown California funk-rock outfit War. They would release three albums worth of material together, including the classic single “Spill The Wine”, before War went off to do their own thing with a string of hits throughout the 1970’s.

This is probably the heaviest one thematically here, a story of God and war seen thru the eyes of soldiers and the chaplain who blesses them before going off to battle. The bagpipes come in right around the same time mid-way thru that the electric guitars and bombing sounds merge. It’s an anti-war song that sounds like war at times in the same way Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner”, avoiding the sloganeering and judgement espoused by other less timeless and more time-period acts of this era, like Country Joe & Fish for example or most of the bands coming from Santana that weren’t the Grateful Dead or Santana.

Parliament “The Silent Boatman”

We know what you’re probably thinking if this song is unfamiliar to you.

This isn’t that Parliament we know, right?!?

Not “Flashlight”, “Aquaboogie”, P-Funk Parliament, right?

Yup, that’s them…during a much earlier time and space.
Released in ’70, probably recorded in the late 60’s shortly after George Clinton had started fusing his doo-wop group The Parliaments in Parliament while also collaborating with some of the key Funkadelic performers such as lead guitarist Eddie Hazel. For those uninitiated as to P-Funk’s legendary reach, or even some of the later-era Parliament-Funkadelic fans who missed the psychedelic soul/rock debut album Osmium, which sounds far more like a Funkadelic record than the R&B/Disco/Funk records they’d record as Parliament in the mid-70’s…it might be hard to reconcile this being P-Funk in any way, shape or form.
The bagpipe opens things, then comes in at the 2:37 mark again to make for a very moving and/or removing lament on this cut.

Eminem “Bagpipes From Baghdad”

Full Disclosure: That technically isn’t actually a “bagpipe” that you hear, it’s a loop of a pungi, an Indian and Pakistani-based instrument originally used for snake charming.  For the purposes of this post we’ll allow it. It’s got “bagpipes” name-dropped right in the hook. I’m not sure where Dr. Dre, behind the boards on this, found the source material for the sample loop here. I’m also not sure why Eminem himself, along with critics and many fans, trash his 2009 Relapse album.

I suppose because rather than power-ballad rap with shouted rhymes and Rihanna hooks, Em actually went for something truly creative for the last time on Relapse. Outside the forced singles that didn’t fit the album’s overall vision and are now forgotten like 50 Cent’s Curtis album, it works well. Try one of the album’s top shelf album cuts here from Eminem’s best album since The Marshall Mathers LP, not to mention far better than all the boring technical rappity-rap or pop-motivational-speaker-with-diva-feature music that has since followed.

Give me funny, evil, did-he-just-say-that-WTF Slim Shady character Eminem over the rest of the stuff nine times out of ten including on this one.

Also, it probably goes without saying but do not play this at work.

AC/DC “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock-N’-Roll)

C’mon, did you actually think we might leave this off the list?!?

Without this one we likely never even think to come up with it.

Bar None Best Bagpipe Banger Ever.

Top Three AC/DC record ever as well.

Led on both the pipes and the parade float in this classic video by easily AC/DC’s best front man, the late great Bon Scott.

All apologies to Brian “Lung Butter” Johnson or more recently and most bizarrely Axl “Whole Lotta” Rose-y.

axl whole lotta rosie.jpg
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