Category: Link Wray

Link Wray – The Swan Singles Collection

ARTIST: Link Wray            51jpBJPOE4L

TITLE:  The Swan Singles Collection

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES:  Charting: Jack the Ripper (#64)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He covers Good Rockin’ Tonight, Please Please Me, Girl from the North Country, Batman, Let the Good Times Roll and his own Rumble (as Rumble ’65)

LINEUP: Link Wray and session guys

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Seminal guitarist records a haphazard bunch of singles for Swan in the 60’s. Some good, some exile worthy.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some overlap here with the Best of Link Wray reviewed earlier. This picks up some tracks not on the other compilation.

Unless you’re a student of 50’s and 60’s guitar and want to hear who influenced a lot of the 60’s garage band types, then this may be a bit much. Wray’s not much of a singer, so the vocal tracks don’t work, and some of these cuts are goopy with strings or superfluous sounds.

He does an interesting version of “Please Please Me”, which that and “The Fuzz” may be the only reason to grab this along with the other compilation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His time at Swan was from 1963-1967, though they leased “Jack the Ripper” from his own record company in 1961.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: For diehards only – grab the comprehensive compilation and fill in tracks if you must.

 

Link Wray – Rumble! The Best of Link Wray

ARTIST: Link Wray MI0001632934

TITLE:  Rumble! The Best of Link Wray

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charted: Rumble (#16), Raw-Hide (#23), Jack the Ripper (#64)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Only Link Wray zealots

LINEUP: Link Wray, his guitar and sidemen

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Influential, yet relatively unknown, early rock-and-roll guitarist has a great full-length compilation that displays his talent and his vision.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You ever wonder where power chords came from? Well, they came from Link Wray, and such instrumentals as “Rumble” and “Raw-Hide”. Guitarists, especially UK guitarists like Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page, tout Wray as an influence beyond his meager US sales.

Wray wasn’t much on commercial sounds (which is why he didn’t last long on Epic) as much as trying to make UNIQUE sounds. His big hits, the aforemented two and “Jack the Ripper” were definitely new sounds that influenced many to this day. Had he had the distortion and pedals that guitarists now have, I’m sure he’d have used them to great effect. Yet listening to an entire collection over time, Wray seemed to tap the same well a couple times too often, and he’s no vocalist.

Wray’s career bogged down when Swan Records went out of business. He released a comeback album in 1971 (which I’ll review along with his Swan singles output), and had toured with rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon before his death. Wray’s legacy is important, and should be recognized.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He had a lung removed after an injury sustained in the Korean War and the doctors said he’d never sing again. Well, they were right in a sense.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  It’s an important collection, but I skipped a couple tracks for the library and you may do the same.