Link Wray (self-titled)

Link Wray

This is a great record with which to understand the appeal of raw lo-fidelity recordings. Modern bands like Whiskeytown and early Wilco wrote music that could equal the work of alt-country masters of the past, but their tunes are hampered by modern recording technology, sounding so pretty and sterile that there is no authenticity or character. When you learn to love the toneless piano, acoustic guitar riffin, unaffected treblelectric guitar, and clanky assortment of found percussion objects driving this record, you might wonder why audiophiles ever bothered to enhance recording technology beyond 1971.

Link Wray was a guitar sensation in the late 50s and 60s who had instrumental hits in songs like Rumble and Jack the Ripper. He has the truly awesome distinction of being called the first guitar player to use overdrive and power chords! It wasn’t until 1971, however, during Link’s comeback that his masterpiece works emerged, in a style and sound akin to that of the Stones and V. Morrison, but a roots rock swamp muddy and smokin’. These albums were recorded in a converted chicken shack on Link’s Maryland farm using makeshift equipment.

Link Wray self-titled is an album that was hard to find in recent years. I had to get it on an OOP box set called Guitar Preacher which was a good, if incomplete, collection of Link’s comeback stuff. Now we are blessed with Wray’s Three Track Shack, a 2005 collection of these three excellent albums from 1971-1974. Beans & Fatback is every bit the equal of the self-titled record, and Mordicai Jones features singer Bobby Howard taking a Little Feat white-soul approach on lead vocals for the album. However, I do prefer Link’s tattered and gritty voice on the other records.

Songs on these records range from fuzz git rockers to country-grass interludes, but the best of them just drive with that laid back Stones feel that gets everyone to nod in time. This compilation is a one of a kind treat that should appeal to all roots rock and music lovers.

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“Fire And Brimstone”

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“From Tulsa To North Carolina”

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  • Fire and Brimstone is my favourite Link track, and this is indeed a great and gritty album set. “Days Before Custer” is an amazing track, too. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at those sessions …

  • Taxiology

    I would just like to second the “also recommended” Relatively Clean Rivers and also throw into the pot the Merry Airbrakes (original Watermelon Slim project). All great stuff if you like that lo-fi drum and bass rhythm with your folk and blues music. Thanks!

  • Polly

    I am Brien Hopkins’ big sister, same momma same poppa, raised together. He was one of the guys in
    Eggs Over Easy. I have his beatuifully produced Good n Cheap, thanks to you, wondering if you have any info where I could obtain Fear of Frying……for a reasonable price: he gave me the first one, I’m hoping he would like me have the other one reasonably (you know he pased in Jan. 2007, 4 years ago this month)

    Thanks, Polly

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