Link Wray

Missing Links, Vol. 4: Streets of Chicago

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Considering Norton had already issued no less than three previous Link Wray rarities volumes (in addition to a 63-song CD with entirely different material from the 1960s), it's a bit of a miracle that they even managed to assemble enough material for a fourth installment. Only one of these songs (a version of "Lillian" from the Great Guitar Hits LP) has been released before. As you would expect, at this point the well is starting to run a little dry, though this 17-track compilation of stray items from the early and mid-'60s has its moments. The studio outtakes are mostly original, with detours into covers of Gene Vincent and Elvis; they're typical Wray guitar-grinders, with occasional vocals, but not as compelling as his greatest material. There are also half a dozen live recordings, including more Elvis covers and versions of classics like "Rumble" and "Ace of Spades"; the performances on these are suitably energetic, though the fidelity is average at best, and rather poor at worst. The best track is probably "Bluebeard," an early demo of a growling instrumental that ended up being retitled "Mustang" for its official release. For those of us who love the Linkster, this is a worthwhile disc, but even more than the previous Missing Links volumes, its appeal is limited to aficionados.

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