Link Wray’s Duane Allman Tribute 45

This past January, guitarists Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes announced they would no longer perform with the Allman Brothers after this year.  Last week, the Allman Brothers Band as we know it played their final run of shows ever at NYC’s Beacon Theatre – six in all, with the final one on October 28.  As Alan Paul reported in the October 29, 2014 edition of Billboard:

“The first two nights (Oct. 21 and 22) at the Beacon were solid but unspectacular. Then, on Oct. 24, two Gibson Les Pauls that belonged to Duane Allman, the band’s late leader, arrived from the Rock and Roll of Fame and animated the band, which played its best show in five years.  Trucks and Haynes’ playing took on more urgency, and Gregg sang with power and passion throughout the night.  The burst of energy was testament to the remarkable influence Duane exerts on the act he founded, even 43 years after his death in a motorcycle accident in 1971.”

I stumbled upon Link Wray‘s sly and heartfelt tribute to Duane Allman – “I Got to Ramble” – a track from 1974’s The Link Wray Rumble album.  Link is no doubt trading off the linguistic tango – “Rumble” (his big 1958 outlaw hit) vs. “Ramble” (Allman Brothers’ 1973 radio staple, “Ramblin’ Man“) – to great effect.  But it’s a funny moment later when you hear the twin lead guitars playing in tight harmony, combined with the “Ramblin’ Man” concept — wait a minute, this is a tribute to Dickey Betts, not Duane!

“I Got to Ramble”     Link Wray     1974

Polydor did not release many singles during Wray’s tenure with the label in the 1970s, but for Link’s first 45 – “Fire and Brimstone” b/w “Juke Box Mama” (released in Australia, as well as the UK & US) Polydor did something different for the US market, in that they issued a promo 45 with a different A-side, “Fallin’ Rain” (paired with the same B-side, “Juke Box Mama”) the following year for some reason.  Polydor would then issue one more single in the UK – “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” b/w “Shine the Light” (produced by Thomas Jefferson Kaye) – plus two final promo 7-inch releases for the US market, “Shine the Light” and Duane Allman tribute, “I Got to Ramble” in 1974.  This would appear to be the extent of Link Wray’s Polydor singles discography (while also rectifying a *misstatement in my previous Link Wray piece that Wray’s years with Polydor “yielded no singles”).

Link Wray Polydor 45Only the catalog record for the Netherlands release of 1974’s The Link Wray Rumble, curiously enough, supplied information about the location of this album’s recording:  “Recorded at Wally Heider Recording & Funky Features, San Francisco, February 1974.”

“God Out West”: Link Wray Sings Hallelujah

Between the years 1971-1974, Link Wray entered into a business relationship with Polydor Records that yielded four albums – but no singles (*actually, a small handful).  Link’s debut Polydor album, 1971’s  Link Wray, found him embracing his Shawnee heritage at a time when popular interest in Native American culture and history was at an all-time peak, as reflected in Paul Revere’s #1 hit, “Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” and the release of the (second) Billy Jack vigilante film.

Link Wray LPLink Wray back cover

Songs were recorded at Link’s converted chicken coop 3-track recording facility in Accokeek, Maryland, with floorboard stomping and nail can shaking used as rhythmic accompaniment (i.e., no drum kit).  “God Out West,” written by drummer, Steve Verroca, is a song that taps into the “God Pop” feeling that was similarly widespread in the early 1970s:

I can see the morning sunlight
Through a foggy hazy gloom
Mountains reaching in the sky
These flowers in the desert bloom

I can see the silence in the night
I know they might need a rest
I heard a voice in the wind
He said, “Son, come out west”

Cause the Lord found me a place
Where I should be
High in the mountains
Where I can be free

Music that Bridge Nations: “Dixie Doodle”

One of my favorite Link Wray tunes is one that humorously fuses our two American national anthems – “Dixie” and “Yankee Doodle”:

“Dixie Doodle”     Link Wray     prob. rec. late 1958

Interesting to learn that, on the strength of his hugely influential top 40 hit, “Rumble” – a menacing instrumental that was actually banned from radio in several markets including, surprisingly, New York City – Link was able to get signed to Epic, an imprint of the almighty Columbia label, who released “Dixie Doodle” in 1959.  Thanks to Cub Koda’s liner notes in Rhino’s Link Wray anthology, I also learned that “Dixie Doodle” was an attempt by Link to emulate the “Rebel” sound of Duane Eddy, who was hot in the late 1950s (and, some 50 years later, royally received at Glastonbury in 2011).  Fascinating to find out, too, that “Dixie Doodle” ended up on the flip side, even though it was originally pushed to be the A-side, with Confederate money printed as a novelty promotion.

“Dixie Doodle” was released as the B-side to “Rawhide,” which went top 40 in January 1959 (#23) – both songs written by Wray, along with the very able assistance of TV teen dance show host, Milt Grant.

Not to be confused, by the way, with the 8-verse parody of “Yankee Doodle” that was popular in the South during the Civil War.