Link Wray

Law of the Jungle

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Almost all of the 28 songs on this compilation of Wray's circa 1963-1966 Swan material also appear on Norton's more comprehensive two-CD Mr. Guitar compilation. So why pick this disc up, whether or not you have Mr. Guitar already? Well, there are seven previously unreleased stereo mixes from the original Swan multi-tracks. That's not much, but it's something, although it's unclear whether all of the takes given the stereo mixes are previously unreleased in any form whatsoever. For what it's worth, "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Frenchy" are identified as alternate take twos, while "Please Please Me" is described as alternate take one, and includes some studio chat. Judged in isolation, this is great if erratic 1960s instrumental rock, with some of Wray's finest tracks and most imaginative playing: "Mr. Guitar," "Bo Diddley," "Cross Ties," "Scatter," "Law of the Jungle," "The Black Widow," and "Ace of Spades" are simply amazing, and lesser-known items like "Big Ben," the tortured rare vocal showcase "Hidden Charms," and the invigorating instrumental take on the Beatles' "Please Please Me" aren't far off that standard. If you only had this disc and didn't know of the existence of other Wray compilations, you'd be quite the happy camper. The reality is, though, that Mr. Guitar has over twice as much material, including virtually everything here (though not "Please Please Me"). So only those hardcore collectors who want those stereo mixes have to count this as a necessity.

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