Friday, July 17, 2009

Link Wray - Link Wray (1971)

And Then He Sang!

Even if you know a little something about Link Wray, chances are, you've never heard of this record. Recorded in the early seventies in a converted shack on Wray's property in Maryland, "Link Wray" is a little baffling in more ways than one. For starters there is no "Rumble" here or any variation thereof. It appears that at the dawn of the 70's the reverb and surf soaked buzz-saw guitar attack that he is famous for seems to have been behind him. What we have here is a down-home, countrified, rock-gospel masterpiece. Right off there's this guy who begins to sing on the opening track " La De Da" sounding like some old baptist screamer who's been sermonizing frenzied churchgoers for decades with a rough, smokey and ecstatic charm. Suddenly you realize, it's the man himself. So naturally, the most surprising thing here is that not only is Link Wray not tearing out the fuzzy runs on his guitar that had been his bread and butter for 15 years prior, but that he is singing! And singing above and beyond all expectations considering that in his heyday doctors told him he would never sing again due to TB and a lost lung back in the 50's. The music is loose and the chicken shack vibe is enduring in a way that many other bands attempted and failed at that time. Songs like "Juke Box Mama" and "God Out West" (where a familiar guitar tone reappears) are foot stomping blues hollers mixed in with breezy ballads like "Take Me Home Jesus" where he declares "I've been in the city for a while / But my souls still countrified / and I can't wait to get back home again". This record sounds like Link's homecoming from the rattle and noise of the city and his previous work and back to the shack where something some doctor told him long ago means absolutely nothing to him. And so he sang.

Buy it if you see it. Good on it's own it also is combined with two other records that make up a sort of shack recording trilogy which is equally as good.

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