Link Davis

Let the Good Times Roll, 1948-1963

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Given the sheer length of Link Davis' career, it's surprising that this 20-track CD, covering highlights across 15 years of recording, is the only compilation out on him -- on the other hand, the diversity of his music also makes it difficult to quantify in a single survey. The selection covers Davis' own recordings, done for Gold Star, Nucraft, Starday, and Allstar, as well as records on which he played and sang, either backup behind Floyd Tillman or lead with Benny Leaders and the Western Rangers, or was working under the pseudonym of "The Harmonica Kid." The sound is a mix of Cajun and honky tonk, leaning toward rockabilly as the '50s sides advance, intermingled with elements of country blues -- "O.P.S. Blues," credited to the 102 Ranch Boys, is an extraordinary piece of topical white blues that's almost a throwback to the Depression-era in purpose and style; it's juxtaposed with the jaunty, Cajun-flavored "Coo-Coo-Coo," which contains a gorgeous fiddle workout. The real treat for rock & roll historians, however, will be "Grasshopper," a 1955 piece of Cajun-style rockabilly that was probably a little too deep Southern to have caught on more than regionally, but would delight any fan of Sun-era Elvis Presley or Carl Perkins. Much of what Davis did over the next few years, as represented here, moved between blues, rockabilly, and country, culminating with "Beatle Bug," a 1962 instrumental credited to "The Man With the Buzzin' Sax." The makers of this collection have done their best to be comprehensive, but as this is not an authorized release (coming out of the Czech Republic by way of England), there is a mild deficiency in the sound; the sources for the early material were clearly discs -- clean ones to be sure, but definitely not studio master quality. The notes are thorough enough to make up for some of the sonic drawbacks, and one shouldn't question the quality of releases like this too extensively -- rather, we should be glad to have it.

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