Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Link Wray - Bullshot

This 1979 release came on the heels of the punk rock rebellion and the revitalization of 50's r'n'r, in sound
and spirit. Link had worked with Robert Gordon previous to this album, so he was already "linked" to the punk/new wave revival and rockers who were far too young to remember his monumental 50's stompers were discovering just how great this man was. While he recorded sporadically throughout the decades, this was his "come-back" - and a damn fine one!

As "Good Good Lovin'" fades in with its incessant, chugging beat, you know you're in for a rockin' good time. LInk wasn't known as a singer, due to losing a lung to illness as a youth, but his voice is strong here and his playing is fiery! Yes, the guitars have a more modern edge, but I think this is essentially the sound he was looking for when he first pierced his speakers with razor blades to get his distortion! He reaches back to the old days for "Fever", but his take is filled with crunching guitar chords that belie the funky, almost disco beat. He is back to his roots with a remake of one of his oldies, "Swag", that sounds like it could have been lifted from one of his old records! "Just That Kind" is a cool but somewhat unexceptional rocker, but side one ends with the fantastic instrumental "Switchblade". Like an update on his previous work, this has a powerful groove, similar to "Peter Gunn", that provides the framework for Wray's pyrotechnics. Feedback, distortion, pick slides, tremelo'd chords and rockin' riffs - right up there with his best!

There are innumerable versions of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", but in Link's hands it is as good as it gets - melodic licks, driving rhythms, ringing chords and a truly wild solo! Some of his best playing here! He does another pretty authentic remake with "Rawhide", reminding people why he was so awesome in the 50's, before bringing in the kids to sing along with the appropriately-titled party tune, "Wild Party" - good, poundin' fun! There's a bit of a gospel feel to his vocal work-out "The Sky Is Falling" that somehow morphs into a high energy guitar solo that sounds like aural equivalent of the title! It all concludes with the 50's ballad "Don't", with Wray giving Elvis a run for his money with this great delivery.

This was a helluva return to a solo career that Link maintained up until his death. His 50's work is absolutely indispensable, but this is damn excellent and maybe even a safer introduction for those who may not be able to relate to the rawer production and tones of the early works.