With his rawboned and ravaged instrumentals from the early ‘60s, Link Wray single-handedly made the guitar the ultimately cool instrument of choice for a whole new generation. Wielding a Danelectro Longhorn, Link Wray – who created the blueprint for everyone from the Kingsmen to the Cramps with his flame-throwing sound – proceeded to outdo himself with this rare LP from 1963, now corralled in crunchie perfect sound – courtesy of the original Swan mono master tapes!
Originally from Dunn, North Carolina, Wray quickly became one of the most distinct guitarists in rockabilly and early rock ‘n’ roll. As the creator of the power cord, he was an innovator of effects with his use of signature distorted, fuzzy guitar. “Jack The Ripper” reached #57 on Billboard in 1963, the followup to his hit “Rumble” which reached #16 five years earlier.
As a Native American in a time when it was taboo to acknowledge his background, Wray’s hardships – including overcoming tuberculosis and measles, which cost him a lung and most of his eyesight and hearing – mostly stemmed from hiding his Shawnee and Cherokee ancestry. His mother Lillian, never taught her boys to speak Shawnee for fear of someone hearing them. The family often had to hide Link and his brothers in the barn when KKK raids were conducted in their neighborhood. Wray recalled, “The cops, the sheriff, the drugstore owner—they were all Ku Klux Klan. They put the masks on and, if you did something wrong, they’d tie you to a tree and whip you or kill you.”
For all of the grief he endured, Link Wray remains one of the most, if not unsung, important figures in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Contained here is some of his best work – the organ-driven “Deacon Jones,” punchy horns and brass rocker “Steel Trap,” and the rockabilly and western-flavored “Mr. Guitar” and “Cross Ties” gives listeners an energetic beat before “Jack The Ripper” closes the A-side with a searing, slashing rocker. The B-side is just as gritty – “Mashed Potato Party” and “Run Chicken Run” are prime examples of ‘50s rockabilly.
Jack The Ripper
Run Chicken Run
Mash Potato Party