Link Sings Elvis
Ace Records UK
Link Wray was best known as a guitar-slinger – his Rumble issuing that very sound, making it profound. He was the bridge between surf-rock and heavy metal. And he was also a mighty fine R’n’B singer. In fact he touched on country music too with some of his idiosyncratic 1970s albums. He was also a massive Elvis Presley fan.
And in the 1990s he recorded these sides for Ace Records now reissued with one previously unreleased track on 10” vinyl – the perfect format for this wee slice of Link and a link between Wray’s version of rock’n’roll and his fandom for The King.
We kick off with a faithful Little Sister. It’s good rockin’ for sure but you can almost see the tracing paper still. Way more interesting is his version of Heartbreak Hotel which, like John Cale’s earlier transmogrification of the song aims to obliterate rather than rebuild. It’s as if he asked the all-important question, What would The Cramps do? (A question more people should be asking, particularly when attempting a cover-version).
Tiger Man features a killer lead vocal and some of that trademark Link Wray guitar-sting too. Fantastic. Somehow he walks a line of self-parody and self-satisfaction here. Blistering guitar runs too. A magic hot-mess.
But the real revelation here I think is when Link really plays it straight. The balladry. Young and Beautiful features a lovely croon – just Wray’s high lonesome tone pitched against a slack-strum acoustic guitar.
Same deal for Love Me Tender. It’s almost a wax-museum interpretation.
Add Home Is Where The Heart Is, That’s When Your Heartaches Begin and As Long As I Have You and we get both two sides of Link and two sides of Elvis. Charming and strangely vital after all these years.
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