LINK WRAY: SELF TITLED

July 28th, 2017 | Album reviews

LINK WRAY
self-titled
Future Days / Light In The Attic

Long after the hits dried up for this king of rockabilly guitar, Link Wray retired to a studio converted from a chicken shack in rural Maryland and continued to record. His 1971 self-titled comeback on Polydor not only failed to galvanize fans of “Rumble” and “Raw-Hide,” but completely failed to hit the commercial mark during country-rock’s heyday as a chart force. Not surprising since this record was about two decades ahead of its time, as evidenced by the opener “La De Da,” a crude populist stomper about the oft-promised Square Deal for the Common Man with one of those nine miles long Elton John glory roll fadeouts. Link’s voice sounds shot and doesn’t improve much over these eleven songs. “Take Me Home Jesus” is similarly unironic and juiced with hallelujah choruses and “Juke Box Mama” is intermittently catchy as it amiably wanders. “Rise and Fall of Jimmie Stokes” is a gem, “Crowbar” is unpretentious and bluesy and “Black River Swamp” puts me in mind of a half-price Van Morrison. The finale “Tail Dragger” is a beauty, with Wray’s crunchy guitar wisely taking the fore. Social protest, gospel, roots rock and Jesus-hippie sentiments are scrambled together with all the sluggish pacing of a Billy Jack movie. Fans of “authenticity” will dig this hugely but many others will file it among the curios of this wonderfully strange era.

—Ron Garmon

LINK WRAY’S SELF-TITLED LP IS OUT FRI., JULY 28, ON FUTURE DAYS.