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That Scratchy Guitar From Memphis

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Album Review

The "scratchy guitar" of the title refers to Travis Wammack's 1964 hit instrumental "Scratchy" as well as his trebly, frenetic guitar style. "Scratchy," with a melody borrowed from Mel Tormé's 1962 hit "Comin' Home Baby" and a bizarre vocal break consisting of backwards tape effects, was only a minor hit in its day but should be regarded as a classic of instrumental rock & roll. That Scratchy Guitar from Memphis gathers 21 recordings Wammack made between 1961-1967, most of which have never before been commercially released. An instrumental rendition of "Louie Louie" on Atlantic Records was Wammack's second and final chart hit of the '60s, and it too is included along with a "Scratchy" retread titled "Umm, How Sweet It Is." Most of the recordings are instrumentals that feature Wammack's bold, funky playing, but there are also several vocal cuts and novelties that display his offbeat sense of humor. "It's Karate Time" is punctuated with karate-chopping grunts years in advance of Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting," and the title of "There's a UFO Up There" speaks for itself. Wammack isn't a great singer, but he's an enthusiastic vocalist whose efforts are not a detraction where they appear. It's easy to see from cuts like "Super Soul Beat" why Wammack ended up playing guitar for so many soul artists in the '70s — he's definitely in the groove. Bear Family has done an excellent job of compiling Wammack's early hits and vault holdings for collectors of instrumental rock & roll and those who appreciate great guitarists.


Born: 1946 in Walnut, MS

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

A guitarist, singer, and young instrumental genius from Memphis who cut his first record at the tender age of twelve, Travis Wammack is one of the great unheralded guitarists of rock & roll. A contemporary of Lonnie Mack, Wammack was simply the fastest guitar player in a town bursting at the seams with great guitarists. By the time he was 17, he appeared on the national charts with "Scratchy," a speed-burner instrumental featuring incredible distortion and dazzling technique. Several incredible singles...
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That Scratchy Guitar From Memphis, Travis Wammack
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