Personnel: Link Wray (guitar); Vernon Wray, Joey Welz (keyboards); Doug Wray (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Ted Carroll; Greg Laxton; Ray Topping.
Recording information: Swan Records, USA.
Introduction by: Jon Savage .
Ace's 2015 compilation pairs two old Chiswick vinyl compilations: 1978's Early Recordings and 1982's Good Rockin' Tonight. Despite the title of Early Recordings, these aren't the earliest sides Wray ever committed to wax. The guitarist cut these sides for Swan between 1963 and 1967, many years after "Rumble" rolled all the way to 16 on Cadence and long after he left Epic. They're midperiod but they're still prime and, in some ways, even dirtier than his trailblazing Epic instrumentals because they were done on the cheap and shamelessly ape trends. Wray embraces the corn in covering the "Batman Theme," co-opts surf for "Scatter," indulges in some backwoods boogie on "Turnpike U.S.A.," rips off "Telstar" on "Cross Ties," turns "Rumble" into a noir novelty for "The Shadow Knows" -- and those are just the recordings that came out as singles during the '60s. Good Rockin' Tonight is devoted to sides that were squirreled away in the vaults until 1982, many of which were covers, some of them even featuring vocals (like the title track). The music on the 1982 LP is of a piece with the 1978 set but it's not quite on par: the earlier comp really did have the cream of the crop. That said, having the two of these records on one CD is not only a blast, it's one of the best ways to hear Wray's '60s peak. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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