Link Wray - S/T
(Future Days / Light In The Attic)
I already know this might be absurd to say, and the rest of the staff here at the shop probably think I’ve lost it, but I can confidently say that Link Wray’s 1970, self-titled album on Polydor is easily in my Top 5 records of all time. Yes, encompassing all genres and eras.
Most people know of Link Wray and his legendary rockabilly band the Ray Men from the late 50’s. You no doubt may have heard the amazing instrumentals “Rumble,” “Jack The Ripper” and “Run Chicken Run.” Those cuts are no doubt incredible but Wray established himself as an entirely different artist at the dawn of the 1970’s.
After securing a deal with Polydor, he took his brothers Vernon and Doug down to rural Maryland to self-record and produce 3 different records in what became known as the “Shack Three Track.” And yes, it was literally a shack. The focus was on songs albeit, with a definite ramshackled, loose and very swampy sound. Wray must have been spiritually motivated at the time with tracks like the broke-down boogie of “Fire And Brimstone,” the stoned bluesy ballad “Take Me Home Jesus” and the thumping fuzz of “God Out West.” Clearly he had been listening to gospel at the tail end of the 60’s. But there’s much more to Link Wray. Brothers Vernon, Doug and producer / co-songwriter Steve Verocca, give the entire LP a very raw mix. It sounds live, loose and fantastically stoned. Wray’s guitar work, and his turns on Dobro, are inspired and he sounds similarly focused on vocals as well. After all, he wasn’t known for his singing but his blues inspired howl comes through perfectly on tracks like the rootsy and groovy “La De Da” and the Wille Dixon tune “Tail Dragger.”
As mentioned above, they did multiple sessions at the Shack. They were so prolific that Wray put together another record which would only be released in the UK and France, Beans And Fatback. They even had time for another full-length LP for Polydor for Wray associate, Mordicai Jones. All three feature heavy contributions from Link and his brothers while also being produced by Verroca. In fact, all three are now back in print on Future Days.
But it all comes back to the ESSENTIAL Link Wray record. I can’t think of another record that perfectly combines good songs, musicianship, rustic weirdness, rhythm and that certain je ne sais quoi. Now remastered with new liner notes as well.
Absolutely top-notch, a perfect 10 from this here fella. (Dom)
Check out a track here.