Link Wray

Beans and Fatback

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Largely recorded the same time as Link Wray's self-titled 1971 comeback album, Beans and Fatback was more playful and harder-rocking set than the country- and blues-flavored album that announced Wray's return to active duty. The loopy title cut started the album on a jew's-harp-infused jug band note, and "I'm So Glad, I'm So Proud" was exactly the sort of showcase for Wray's trademark rumbling guitar that the previous album lacked. Elsewhere, songs such as "Hobo Man" and "Georgia Pines" (the latter a rewrite of Leadbelly's In the Pines") followed the roots-oriented pattern of Link Wray, but with a stronger backbone and a lot more wallop; if both albums sound like they came from a studio housed in a chicken shack on a rundown Maryland farm, Beans and Fatback seems to have been born during a Saturday night rave-up, and goes a lot father toward fusing the rowdy howl of Wray's early instrumental hits with the back-to-the-land flavor of his more personal 1971 set. If Beans and Fatback suffers in comparison to Link Wray, it's in the lack of the deeper and more emotionally resonant undercurrents that carried the 1971 album; as good as these songs are, they don't have the same impact as, say, "Fire and Brimstone" or "Take Me Home Jesus." But as a pure listening experience, Beans and Fatback is plenty satisfying, and offers more rock & roll bang for the buck than Wray's other work from this period. Virgin's original LP release of Beans and Fatback also included a free piece of dried fatback as a "bonus" -- yummy! This album also appears in full on the collection Wray's Three Track Shack.

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