Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Link Wray and his Ray Men - They're Outta Here, Says Archiedotdotdotdotdot
artworkFinally, after languishing in the Cadence vaults for forty some years, Link Wray's album sees the light of day for the first time. 25 tracks (22 instrumental), and very vital. Essential listening.
Picks: Oddball, Pancho Villa, Walking With Link, Comanche, The Swag, Raw-Hide, Dance Contest, School Girl, Heartbreak Hotel, Drag Race, Rebel Rouser, Patricia, Missing Link, Missing Link, White Lightning, Creepy, Raw-Hide, Pancho Villa, Comanche, Walking With Link, Pancho Villa, Dance Contest

Track by Track Review


Oddball dotdotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

"Oddball" is actually the original take of "Rumble," the original street gang record. This drips juvenile delinquency and chains and knives and broken bottles. It's the first evil rock instro. Very powerful after 40 years! Link Wray is the originator of lead guitar instros, of the ominous guitar sound, of the use of extreme sustain for danger, of the tribal thunder and drama under rock instros, of the gradually changing effects to impose a rising threat, as he does by increasing vibrato at the end of the track. This is a must have for any self-respecting rock instro fan, and a definite requirement to understand the foundation that was laid for the later surf bands.

Pancho Villa dotdotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

"Pancho Villa" is an early version of "El Toro," an instro that's particularly catchy and rhythmic. This version is excellent, with much greater clarity and suburban twang. Rich and just coarse enough to display that Link Wray edge.

Walking With Link dotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

This is a dark stroll down a dangerous alley ready to rumble. "Walking With Link" is a dangerous song with a blues underbelly and a knife-fight ethic.

Comanche dotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

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

The Swag dotdotdot
Fifties Instro (Instrumental)

Link cut many sides while on Swan, and most were not as grand as "Rumble" or "Jack The Ripper." This is a swingin' if uninspired tune from the Linkster. It includes false starts and track chatter.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Often covered, this is pure Link Wray. Great plinking piano, raw guitar riffs, rockin' drums, and lots of spunk. It's what lies under every rockin' jam on earth. This take is much higher resolution than others, and has a more defined edge.

Dance Contest dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

"Dance Contest" is a rockabilly boogie or shuffle, and not anywhere near as interesting as most Link Wray songs. If you know the Virtues' "Guitar Boogie Shuffle," then you know basically what this is about.

School Girl dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

"School Girl" is a slowish and gentle song with a cool melody line and a few dropped notes. It has a pop styled melody that's perhaps a little Brille Building mixed with Chuck Berry. Very nice.

Heartbreak Hotel dotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This is the first of several versions of "Heartbreak Hotel" that Link cut. Slow and bluesy, and stilted. Most of his material is very fluid and primal, but this seems more like a rehearsal run through than a final take.

Drag Race dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This rhythm dominated guitar boogie sports a circular riff and is a far cry from the "real" link wary, though it's surely energetic and edgy enough. "Drag Race" is fun, but not necessary.

Rebel Rouser dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

It's odd to hear the great Link Wray and his Ray Men do Duane Eddy. It's kinda cool, but a lot less hot and powerful. The whole concept of gritting it out while playing in a fairly restrained fashion is interesting, if not compelling.

Patricia dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Perez Prado's "Patricia" is strange in its almost MOR approach. Vibrato and romance in a Link Wray intro is quite something. Very nice, and the brushed drums add a bit of class.

Missing Link dotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Whammy weirdness opens this slow stroll with gutty percussive guitar twang and backwoods soul rhythm. Blues, dark edge, and crisp tone.

Missing Link dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This final take of "Missing Link" is more fluid and intense than the alternate. Big twang and demented whammy accent a blues stroll with edge and a dark soul.

White Lightning dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

"White Lightning" is a fast almost splashy Larry Williams-like riff with a thrashy edge and gutty sound. Pretty nice for this kind of progressional instro, in part because of enough variation and intensity to keep it fresh.

Creepy dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

"Creepy" is a variation on "The Swag," with a twangier sound. Great ringing chords and crisp guitar tone.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Link cut "Raw-Hide" many times. This alternate is clean and not as intense as some, yet it has edge and that great plinking piano over Link's flailing double pick thrash. Quite cool.

Pancho Villa dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This alternate take of "Pancho Villa" a.k.a."El Toro" is just as cool as all the others. Rhythmic clarity and Spanish twang, coarse enough to keep it in the groove.

Comanche dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

"Comanche" is another often covered Link Wray song. This is a very interesting take, with Indian whoops and hollers and edgy guitar chops.

Walking With Link dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Another take on "Walking With Link" that's more fluid and soulful, though it's an alternate. Throbbingly blues progressional, with angry edge.

Pancho Villa dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

Another alternate take on "El Toro" with that amazing rhythmic magic. Not as good as the others in some ways, but the song is so compelling that it doesn't matter. The dry chop chords are very cool!

Dance Contest dotdotdotdot
Raw Rock (Instrumental)

This alternate take of "Dance Contest" is full and twangy, and maybe just a bit cooler than the other one here.