Three albums Link Wray recorded on his brother’s farm in the early 70s. Radically different to his previous releases, the music remains raw and basic, but with vocals and acoustic instruments.
Following his instrumental hits ‘Rumble’ and ‘Jack The Ripper’, Link Wray settled into a routine of gigging with his band the Raymen in the North-Eastern states, particularly the rough and ready dives of Washington DC. In the early 70s this stopped and Link concentrated on working on the farm his brother Vernon had bought in Accokeek ,Maryland. Vernon installed a three-track recording studio in the basement of the farmhouse, but his wife complained about the noise so it was moved outside to an old chicken house – the 3-Track Shack was born.
Producer Steve Verroca caught one of Link’s performances in a local bar, was impressed, and thought the time was right for a comeback. Extracting elements from his own country, blues and gospel roots and somehow melding them together with the very landscape itself, he created an organic blend of downhome music that was imbued with a primitive spirituality. There is an unpolished, spontaneous feel to the music which sparks it greedily into life, and the Accokeek earth seems to be ground deep into every groove. Acoustic guitars, mandolins, dobros and piano paint a rustic picture of timeless valleys, ancient mountains and endless ranch land with Link’s bluesy electric guitar flowing through them like a powerful river with only the floorboard-stomping percussion keeping it tethered to its course. The album was acclaimed by music journalists who regarded it as a re-birth, but fans were confused by the new direction and the eponymous first album did not sell. A second album was released – the pseudonymously title “Mordicai Jones” – with either pianist Bobby Howard or Gene Johnson taking over vocal duties from Link. The in-depth booklet note tells Link’s version of how the third album from the sessions, “Beans And Fatback”, came to be released on Virgin in 1973.
These three albums have been out on CD before, but never mastered from the original tapes. You can even hear the frogs croaking outside the shack.
Dave Burke & Alan Taylor