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Link Wray Law Of The Jungle (CD)

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  • CDCHD837
  • 0.1
(ACE Records) 30 Tracks -  Link Wray never disappoints. This CD contains classic... more

Link Wray: Law Of The Jungle (CD)

(ACE Records) 30 Tracks - 

Link Wray never disappoints. This CD contains classic Swan 45s, rarities and seven stunning previously unreleased stereo mixes from the original Swan label multi-tracks 

In the scheme of things, Link Wray occupies a spot well above cult status and some way below Superstar level, and that's the way he likes it. "Maybe if I'd had the right Superstar push behind me then I'd have had more success," he once remarked, "but then I wouldn't have my freedom, I wouldn't be an eagle. I want to be like the eagles, to be free and do my own thing." 

Between 1963 and 1967, Link recorded for the Swan label of Philadelphia, usually under the skillful direction of his elder brother Vernon, professionally known as Ray Vernon. A self-taught sound engineer and producer, Ray ran his own recording studio in Washington DC which allowed Link the luxury of working in sympathetic if markedly functional surroundings. 

After a decade playing together, the nucleus of Link's band comprising his younger brother, Doug, on the drums and Shorty Horton on bass, had developed an almost telepathic empathy. For much of that time, Ray Vernon had sat in on second guitar and vocals adding to the rapport between the four men. They were cohesive but never dull, as the wild, woolly and frequently jagged sounds heard on this CD attest. 

Aside from a carefully programmed selection of Swan 45s, little heard cuts from their only Swan LP and other rarities (some of which were previously only available on our two vinyl LPs), there are 7 stunning previously unissued stereo re-mixes of classics such as Ace Of Spades and Heartbreak Hotel taken directly from the original multi-tracks. These sound as though they were recorded yesterday and are probably worth the price of the CD alone. Most notable is Link's interpretation of the Beatles' Please Please Me, scheduled for release on a Swan 45 in 1965 but withdrawn at the last moment before eventually appearing on Rollercoaster's Swan Singles collection in 1998. We've included an earlier take in glorious stereo (complete with studio chat) which is noticeably more visceral than the final master. 

Widely acknowledged as the Godfather of Grunge, Link Wray has survived four decades of prevailing trends in popular music to become an American music legend. He never disappoints.

By Rob Finnis

Article properties: Link Wray: Law Of The Jungle (CD)

  • Interpret: Link Wray

  • Album titlle: Law Of The Jungle (CD)

  • Genre Rock'n'Roll

  • Label Ace Records

  • Artikelart CD

  • EAN: 0029667183727

  • weight in Kg 0.1
Wray, Link - Law Of The Jungle (CD) CD 1
01 Good Rockin' Tonight (vocal) Link Wray
02 The Black Widow Link Wray
03 Law Of The Jungle Link Wray
04 Hidden Charms (vocal) Link Wray
05 Hang On Link Wray
06 Alone Link Wray
07 Ruby Baby Link Wray
08 Soul Train (vocal) Link Wray
09 Heartbreak Hotel Link Wray
10 Big Ben Link Wray
11 Peggy Sue Link Wray
12 Week End Link Wray
13 Return Of The Birdland Link Wray
14 Please Please Me Link Wray
15 Dinosaur Link Wray
16 Steel Trap Link Wray
17 My Alberta Link Wray
18 Ace Of Spades (long vers.) Link Wray
19 Honky Tonk Link Wray
20 Scatter Link Wray
21 Stop And Listen To Me (vocal) Link Wray
22 Cross Ties Link Wray
23 The Shadow Knows Link Wray
24 Mr. Guitar Link Wray
25 Girl From The North Country (vocal) Link Wray
26 Bo Diddley Link Wray
27 Rumble (Swan vers.) Link Wray
28 Zip Code Link Wray
29 What A Price (vocal) Link Wray
Link Wray may well have been the loudest rock guitarist I’ve ever heard in a concert setting.... more
"Link Wray"

Link Wray may well have been the loudest rock guitarist I’ve ever heard in a concert setting. Considering that over the decades I’ve also luxuriated in the teeth-rattling fretwork of Roy Buchanan and Dick Dale, that’s saying a whole lot (granted, I’m not a heavy metal devotee). That extraordinary volume boost was a necessity for Wray; a childhood bout with the measles had robbed him of a good portion of his hearing (and some of his eyesight too, for that matter). Dedicated Wray fans didn’t mind a temporary bout with deafness in the slightest following one of Link’s signature shredfests; his pulverizing power chords and screaming staccato lead licks were the very definition of what rock guitar has always been and should forever be, making it a small price to pay. What’s more, Link never stopped epitomizing the concept of cool. He proudly wore a leather jacket and shades onstage well into his 70s, when his demographic peers outside the music business had long since donned cardigan sweaters and settled into comfy easy chairs.

Stardom didn’t come easily for Wray; he and his brothers had to work long and hard to escape the impoverished circumstances of their youth and find a foothold in the music industry. Fred Lincoln Wray, Jr. was the middle musical sibling, born May 2, 1929 in Dunn, North Carolina. Vernon was five years older than Link, born January 7, 1924 in Fort Bragg, N.C., and Doug five years younger (July 4, 1934). The Wray boys did some singing at the same church services where their mother, a full-blooded Shawnee Indian, preached the gospel. Link picked up some early guitar lessons when he was eight from an African American slide specialist called Hambone, who taught him the rudiments of how to play the blues. The Wray family moved to Portsmouth, Virginia during the mid-‘40s, but Link was in no particular hurry to embark on his musical career—he didn’t buy his first electric axe until 1949. Link was drafted in ’51, stationed first in Germany and then in Korea, where he was felled by tuberculosis. Finally back in the U.S. in 1953, he bought a Les Paul guitar and a Premier amplifier and got serious about his playing. But he was never quite able to duplicate the elegant, complex technique of his hero, Chet Atkins, so he developed his own mind-melting attack. Jazz guitarists Tal Farlow, Les Paul, and Barney Kessel and country picker Grady Martin also caught his ear, although he wouldn’t end up playing like any of them either.

The Wrays formed a country band in 1954 to play the rough-and-tumble gin joints around Portsmouth and nearby Norfolk, recruiting their cousin, Brentley ‘Shorty’ Horton, to play bass and provide comic relief with Doug on drums, Vernon on rhythm guitar and occasional piano, and Dixie Neal, the brother of Gene Vincent’s bassist Jack Neal, on steel guitar. They were billed as The Lazy Pine Wranglers for a time, then Lucky Wray (Vernon’s temporary alias, stemming from his gambling skills) and The Palomino Ranch Gang. A connection with pioneering country broadcaster Connie B. Gay in Tidewater, Virginia led to the group minus Neal relocating to Washington, D.C., where Gay had established a popular television program, ‘Town and Country Time,’ hosted by young accordion wielder Jimmy Dean. For all its political sophistication, D.C. was loaded with hillbilly talent and plenty of watering holes in which to showcase it. In addition to the personable Dean, Marvin Rainwater and guitarist extraordinaire Roy Clark were part of the bustling scene. All three of them recorded for producer Ben Adelman, the owner of Empire Studio there (West Virginia native Patsy Cline cut her first demos, long since lost, under Adelman’s supervision with Dean’s Texas Wildcats backing her). Although his legend rests solidly on a legacy of blistering instrumentals, Link’s debut release in January of 1956 for Adelman’s Kay label paired two of his raucous rockabilly vocals, I Sez Baby and the all but incomprehensible Johnny Bom Bonny, as half of an EP that Link shared with the obscure duo of Bob Dean and Cindy.

Adelman indefatigably hustled his finished masters to various labels; he found a home for three country-oriented singles by the considerably smoother-voiced Lucky Wray (It’s Music She Says, Got Another Baby, and Teenage Cutie) at H.W. ‘Pappy’ Daily and Don Pierce’s Starday Records in 1956-57, the last one sub-billing Link and Doug on its label. Starday released the masters through its custom service rather than issuing them on the main label, intending them for regional exposure only with the manufacturing costs paid by the artists themselves. Right in the middle of it all, the TB that Link had contracted in Korea sent him to the hospital in the summer of 1956 all the way until March of the following year. A grueling operation to remove his left lung largely put an end to any serious singing aspirations; from here on, Wray would concentrate on his blazing guitar technique and mostly leave the vocal duties to others, in particular his brother Vernon, whose prospects looked bright once Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann’s Philly-based Cameo Records brought him aboard in mid-1957. The songwriting duo was on a real roll, having penned Elvis’ pop chart-topper (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear. Their label was too, scoring its own number one seller that same year with Charlie Gracie’s Butterfly.

As Lowe led the choir-cushioned orchestra, Vernon crooned the Mann/Lowe copyright Remember You’re Mine, issued in June of ’57 after the label flipped the singer’s name so he was billed as Ray Vernon. Cameo even sprang for a full-page ad promoting the single in ‘The Billboard.’ But any hopes of a hit were dashed when Pat Boone covered the tune for Dot, taking it into the Top Ten and leaving Ray’s original in the dust (its bouncy flip Evil Angel might have nicely suited Gracie). Cameo responded to Boone’s cover by replacing Remember You’re Mine with I’ll Take To-morrow (To-day) as Evil Angel’s plattermate; Link’s biting axe was prominent on the new ballad, unlike its sedate predecessor. Cameo tried again with Ray that autumn with the rocking I’m Counting On You, penned by Atlanta-born blues shouter Chuck Willis (1957 was a big year for Chuck; his revival of the ancient blues C.C. Rider for Atlantic, perfectly tempoed for dancing The Stroll, sailed to the top of the R&B charts). This time, Link made his presence felt with a searing solo, and even if the arrangement was a tad rough around the edges, Ray’s encore outing stood as a contender for hitdom yet didn’t quite make the grade.



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Wray, Link - Law Of The Jungle (CD) CD 1
01 Good Rockin' Tonight (vocal)
02 The Black Widow
03 Law Of The Jungle
04 Hidden Charms (vocal)
05 Hang On
06 Alone
07 Ruby Baby
08 Soul Train (vocal)
09 Heartbreak Hotel
10 Big Ben
11 Peggy Sue
12 Week End
13 Return Of The Birdland
14 Please Please Me
15 Dinosaur
16 Steel Trap
17 My Alberta
18 Ace Of Spades (long vers.)
19 Honky Tonk
20 Scatter
21 Stop And Listen To Me (vocal)
22 Cross Ties
23 The Shadow Knows
24 Mr. Guitar
25 Girl From The North Country (vocal)
26 Bo Diddley
27 Rumble (Swan vers.)
28 Zip Code
29 What A Price (vocal)