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Most notable is Link's interpretation of the Beatles' Please Please Me, scheduled for release on a Swan 45 in 1965 but withdrawn at the last moment before eventually appearing on Rollercoaster's Swan Singles collection in 1998.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