Record Review - 1 August 28 2003

Known as the guy who put the power in power-chord (via his 1958 instrumental "Rumble"), Link Wray inspired a still-growing horde of garage bands in his thundering, reverbed wake. But the guitar legend's influence on music was far more substantial than his lone major hit indicates.

The terrific tribute CD, Guitar Ace, features 24 international artists, many relatively obscure in the States. It sets the record straight on the guitarist by exploring the many sides and layers of Wray's rumble. Also helpful are the extensive and detailed liner notes penned by CL contributor Gregory Nicoll, who explains Wray's link to punk, metal, blues, surf and C&W as well as such diverse artists as Pete Townsend, The Cramps, Neil Young and rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon.

From Mystery Action's opening two-minute, whip-cracking "Raw-Hide," to Dave Wronski's acoustic "Ace of Spades," Calexico's haunting country ballad "Fallin' Rain" and the Hellbenders' spoken-word accompaniment to the Ennio-Morricone-on-acid-trip of "The Outlaw," the eclectic range of acts and their obvious love of all things Link make this an revealing and engaging collection. Atlanta garage rockers the Woggles sancti-fried "Deacon Jones" and The Boss Martians' '70s-style "Fire and Brimstone" even expose the Wray-man's twisted spiritual edge.

Nicoll scrutinizes each track in its original and cover version, further illuminating the shadowy persona of one of rock and roll's most overlooked guitarists and under-appreciated pioneers.

The Woggles play Drive-Invasion at the Starlight Six Drive-In Sun., Aug 31. $18-$30. Gregory Nicoll will surely be in attendance.