Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Link Wray and his Raymen - Slinky!dotdotdotdotdot
artworkIt doesn't get much better than this. Virtually every scrap of Link Wray tape from the Epic vaults assembled into a beautiful 46 track double CD package, with detailed liner notes from old friend Teisco Del Rey. I can only say thank you Sundazed for another incredible package!
Picks: Slinky, Right Turn, Raw-Hide, Ramble, Caroline, Studio Blues, Walkin' With Link, Dixie-Doodle, Radar, Lillian, Comanche, Dance Contest, Guitar Cha-Cha, Rumble Mambo, El Toro, Comanche, Right Turn, Lillian, Kiki, Moonlight Love, Hand Clapper, Golden Strings, New Studio Blues, Rendezvous, Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, Ramble, Slinky, Walkin' With Link, Stupid Pony, Night Life, Slow Drag, New Studio Blues, Golden Strings, Radar, Tijuana, Tenderly

Track by Track Review

Slinky dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Zippy comes to mind. This great track uses flying Spanish double picked tones and energetic playing to convey an irresistible melody line. Instantly personal and magnetic. It's funny, but this is just one of the best tracks in quite a while, yet there are few descriptors that come to mind other than bitchin' and must have.

Right Turn dotdotdotdot
Riff Rock (Instrumental)

A solid Link Wray riff rider. The plinking piano is very cool. Extra simple riff rock, with that signature edge. A little more guitar presence would be nice.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Who'da thunk it? Paul McCartney's "Cayenne" makes credible fodder for a pretty surf instro, melodic, sad, and haunting. Susan's arrangement is nicely balanced, and the tone is most pleasing.

Ramble dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A fine track, with the organ trading whistling warbling lines with the incredibly good double picked lead guitar. This is a spectacular and happy track.

Caroline dotdotdotdot
Rebel Rock (Instrumental)

Heavily influenced by Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser," "Caroline" sports a sax break and rebel shouts. It's kind of a low brow and more gutsy reinvention of the idea. Very cool!

Studio Blues dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a '98 composition of Susan's. The melody is a high register minor menace, sad and haunting, over a rhythm guitar-organ backtrack that supports it well. The unusual melody is quite appealing.

Walkin' With Link dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Astronauts' original version of the William Dunham - Bobby Beverly tune is roundly energized here. The arrangement is true to the single, and the playing is quite good. Solid percussion, pumped bass, and fine reverb guitar. While not experimental, it is most enjoyable. It even fades at the end like the original film score.

Dixie-Doodle dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray provides the tune, Susan and friends provide the surf sounds. "Trembler" serves as the intro and outro for "Ace Of Spades," both of which are much cleaner than the Linkster, while neither loses its bite. The drums are haunting. Fine track.

Radar dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The B-side of the Dave Clark Five's "Bits And Pieces" was a grand instro titled "Chaquita" that has long begged surf reincarnation. The Flat Duo Jets' rendering is hot and uses the pomp of "Sing Sing Sing" styled swing tunes. Susan and the SurfTones on the other hand, use suave tones, a groovin' low-key energy, and a quiet kinda thunder. This give it a very cool edge, and makes it very endearing. Susan's cries of "ooh, Chaquita" further the coolness.

Lillian dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a nearly complete renovation, Susan and the SurfTones use different tones, different drum cadences, and even alter the melody. The use of the drums from the Routers' "Let's Go" is a change that takes this from the realm of routine covers to that of valued update.

Comanche dotdotdotdot
Thrash Rock (Instrumental)

This tune has become a modern anthem of the lo-fi boys, probably due to the many versions committed to vinyl by Billy Childish. Simple basic riff magic. There are damn few who can make stuff this simple work.

Dance Contest dotdotdotdot
Barn Dance Rock (Instrumental)

Country chumpin' barn dancin' twango riffs and a sense of humor permeate this excellent basic RI track. Images of plaid clad two-steppers take flight from this warm track.

Guitar Cha-Cha dotdotdotdot
Too Fun Rock (Instrumental)

With extra cool cow bell action, this is another variation on "My Beth" / "Studio Blues." The percussion plays a particularly supportive role, while Link's guitar warmly plays with inviting distortion. It's hard to back away from this track.

Rumble Mambo dotdotdotdot
Warm Melodic Rock (Instrumental)

This track is preceded by studio chatter before becoming an excellent rolling tune with a fine melody line and traveling feel. It's not at all like "Rumble." The melody is very close to the break in the Torquays' "Escondido." Released on Okey single 7166.

El Toro dotdotdotdot
Crunchy Military Rock (Instrumental)

This astounding track is ultra cool, with faux mariachi horns in the break, rich guitar tone and flashy double picked chords. The military beat and the edgy crunch make this irresistible. This was a single (Epic 5-9454), and appears on CD for the first time in glorious stereo. The Speed Devils do a dynamite cover of this.

Comanche dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This stereo demo of "Comanche" is more subdued and less personal than the release version. Its purpose was likely more to document for arrangement purposes than to capture the fire of Link Wray and his Raymen.

Right Turn dotdotdotdot
Riff Rock (Instrumental)

This is an alternate take of a solid Link Wray riff rider. The plinking piano is very cool. Extra simple riff rock, with that signature edge. A little more guitar presence would be nice.

Lillian dotdotdotdot
Riff Stroll (Instrumental)

"Lillian" moves through a slow fifties structure, with sock-hop piano and ringing guitar. It's more melodic than Link's faster material, more typically RI. The delicate double picking mid stream is quite tasty.

Kiki dotdotdotdot
Latin Big Guitar (Instrumental)

Slightly Indian drums and a muted trumpet accompany Link on Hector Rivera's "Kiki." Even when he's doing something very fluid and almost MOR approachable, Link's edge and intense twang takes into new territory and lifts it to new heights of credibility. This track is an excellent previously unreleased gem.

Moonlight Love dotdotdot
Slushy Big Guitar (Instrumental)

This treatment of "Moonlight Love" is very slushy for Link Wray, with female chorus and strings, it crosses Links edgy big guitar with Percy Faith arranging styles. Bizarre, yet fascinating. Previously unreleased.

Hand Clapper dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mean double picked low-E lead, whistlin' organ beneath, and a very simple riff that proves the power of the note when employed carefully, like Dick Dale's "The Victor." Fine tune.

Golden Strings dotdotdotdot
Shimmering (Instrumental)

This slow vibrato shimmer of a stroll is based on Chopin's "Etude." It is way softer than Link's usual sound, and very beautiful, yet retains his big sound. "Golden Strings" was a single (Epic 5-9361) Glorious.

New Studio Blues dotdotdot
Warm Rock (Instrumental)

Much twangier than "Studio Blues," this sports beefy tone and harkens back to Link's backwoods sound. The riff is like a cross between "Comanche" and "Raw-Hide," played at the pace of "Comanche."

Rendezvous dotdotdotdot
Suave Rock (Instrumental)

This single (Epic 5-9343) is a strange blend of ideas. The piano lead speaks to Hugo Winterhalter, and the raw band sound speaks Link Wray, as does his fine guitar break. Suave for the rockabilly in us all.

Trail Of The Lonesome Pine dotdotdot
Bouncy Rock (Instrumental)

A bouncy interpretation of the classic cowboy song, with horns and a strange beat. This single (Epic 5-9361) seems under developed, even for Link.

Ramble dotdotdot
Rumble Rock (Instrumental)

This is a previously unreleased alternate take of "Ramble," a song born of a softening of "Rumble." Not as inspired as the released version, but quite cool.

Slinky dotdotdotdot
Threatening Rock (Instrumental)

This alternate take of "Slinky" seems maybe a little more tribal somehow. Link's menacing use of space in his songs is magnified here. Very groovy.

Walkin' With Link dotdotdotdot
Walkin' Rock (Instrumental)

Recorded in such a way as to be almost entirely the guitar, this is nonetheless an nasty romp along the shore with the switchblade of rock 'n' roll.

Stupid Pony dotdotdot
Warm Rock (Instrumental)

This 1960 single was released under the name the Ponies as Okeh single 4-7139. It's a kind of pumpin' R&B raver, with a naturally raw Link Wray sound.

Night Life dotdotdot
Warm Rock (Instrumental)

This is a knock off of Bill Dogget's "Honky Tonk." "Night Life" was released by Bert and Ray (Ray Scearce - lap steel, and Bert a.k.a. Link Wray - guitar) on Alpine single AE 51.

Slow Drag dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

The other side of the Bert and Ray single, "Slow Drag" is borne on the solar winds of Sleep Walk, with a suave slow gate and great lap steel work. This is prime material for a surfband to reverborize. It has an island feel to it.

New Studio Blues dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Wipe Out" is a hard song to cover, for many reasons, from a tendency to try to reproduce the original Surfaris' classic, through the impossibility of replicating the fluidity of Ron Wilson's drums, to the shear volume of pedestrian covers. The ones that stand out are those that show some fresh creativity in the arrangement; those that breathe new life into the song. This one falls into the latter category. The track opens with a glissando and a guitar flourish that does not hint at the tune to come. The first verse is pretty trad, with the first drum break beginning the deviation via a double picked guitar accompaniment in addition to the accent chords. The second verse moves into a slightly jazzy interpretation of the guitar lines. The second drum break is entirely nontraditional, more of a long solo with lots of drum whackage and experimenting, accompanied by some guitar work of equal character, before dropping back to "the drum riff" we all recognize. The last guitar verse is quite stylish and very energetic. Overall, it's quite a nice change from the usual "Wipe Out."

Golden Strings dotdotdotdot
Soft Rock (Instrumental)

This alternate take is limited only by too much dynamic variation in the damped chords of the rhythm guitar. The shimmering lead and piano are splendid.

Radar dotdotdotdot
Link Rock (Instrumental)

"Radar" is a typical Link Wray composition, relying on simple nastiness and raw edge. This gem greets the world for the first time here. Very cool, of course!

Tijuana dotdotdotdot
Latin Rock (Instrumental)

"Tijuana" emerged from the success of the Champs' "Tequila," but aside from the rhythm and obvious references, the melody is big twangy Link Wray all the way. A flashy flute accompanies the break. Latin rhythms and funky Linkisms.

Tenderly dotdotdotdot
Warm Rock (Instrumental)

This MOR classic pours off Link's guitar as if he wrote it. Smooth, yet with that kind of romantic edge that only bad boys can give a phrase like "I love you." Liquid gold. Previously unreleased.