10 Albums In Which A Single Musician Plays (Almost) Every Instrument

Last night, I saw a screening of Shut Up and Play the Hits, the documentary about LCD Soundsystem’s final show that occurred in April of last year at Madison Square Garden. Though, to be fair, everyone who lives within five miles of Williamsburg was court-ordered to attend at least one showing of the movie — James Murphy is to Brooklyn what Punxsutawney Phil is to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He’s our identity, dammit.

Also, LCD Soundsystem is a great band and I’m still sad that they don’t exist anymore. Musical genius James Murphy is someone who could effectively make an awkward Jewish white guy who hates dancing (like me!) want to dance to a song as good as “Yeah (Crass Version).” Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is besides the point (the dancing me, that is). Fact of the matter is, between 2001-2011, no one else was doing what LCD was doing — which was a little bit dance-punk, a little bit David Bowie, a little bit midlife crisis — and it was all via the mind of Murphy, who played nearly instrument on all three of their albums.

With that in mind, here are 10 other musicians who played (almost) every instrument on one of their albums. I’m not including guys like folk-era Bob Dylan because it’s not tough to play every instrument when the only instrument is an acoustic guitar. This is for you, James. Thanks for “All My Friends.”

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McCartney by Paul McCartney (1970)

Instruments: Paul McCartney plays bass, drums, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, piano, Mellotron, organ, and toy xylophone

Music of My Mind by Stevie Wonder (1972)

Instruments: Stevie Wonder plays everything, except for single-song appearances by Art Baron on trombone (“Love Having You Around”) and Buzz Feiten on guitar (“Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)”).

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (1973)

Instruments: Mike Oldfield plays acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar, Farfisa, Hammond, Lowrey organs, flageolet, fuzz guitars, glockenspiel, mandolin, piano, percussion, timpani, and tubular bells.

For You by Prince (1978)

Instruments: Prince plays “27 instruments,” according to rumors, but that’s likely a bit of an exaggeration.

Centerfield by John Fogerty (1985)

Instruments: John Fogerty plays guitar, bass, drums, and piano

Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails (1989)

Instruments: Trent Reznor plays keyboards, drum machines, guitars, and samplers.

Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins (1993)

Instruments: Billy Corgan plays lead guitar, bass guitar, Mellotron, and string arrangements (the other members of the band are given credit for playing their respective instruments, but Corgan overdubbed nearly all of their performances with his own).

Foo Fighters by Foo Fighters (1995)

Instruments: Dave Grohl plays drums, guitars, and bass (there’s a brief solo from the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, but Grohl was the only Fighter)

Rockin’ the Suburbs by Ben Folds (2001)

Instruments: Ben Folds plays piano, drums, guitar, and bass guitar

Michigan by Sufjan Stevens (2003)

Instruments: Sufjan Stevens plays oboe, English horn, piano, electric organ, electric piano, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, recorders, wood flute and whistles, drum kit, percussion, shakers, sleigh bells, tambourine, and cymbal.