Robert Gordon w/ Link Wray: "Fresh Fish Special"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date: 1978 Private Stock Records
(My Rating: 5 Stars)
The Way I Walk
Red Cadillac, And A Black Mustache
If This Is Wrong
Five Days, Five Days
I Want To Be Free
Twenty Flight Rock
Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Fargo Record Fair held in the great state of North Dakota. Being a collector of vinyl, I was quite excited by the opportunity to browse the selection of albums presented by many local vendors. Actually, excited might not be the word for it. I would describe that afternoon as more of a fugue state type thing. Basically, I arrived at the Fair around 1PM and two hours later I left almost $200.00 poorer. I did this with no concept of how I blew through my cash so quickly. However, upon climbing in the car with my two accomplices I couldn’t help but wring my hands in anticipation of all the treasures we three had gathered. Little did I realize at the time, how accurate the word, “treasure,” would describe one of the gems I had collected.
This being stated, during my hysterical shopping experience, I’m proud to boast I had the sense to grab the album, “Fresh Fish Special,” by Robert Gordon w/ Link Wray. Who is Robert Gordon, you’re all thinking. I too was thinking that very same thing before immediately dismissing it with the argument, “Hey, Link Wray is involved and Robert is combing his pompadour on the cover of this album. Where is the bad here?” I would like to take this moment to pat myself on the back for probably the best reasoning I’ve ever done while contemplating a decision. I now have a new mantra which is, “While vinyl shopping, if it’s Rockabilly it’s going in the cart.”
After my first listen of this incredible album I was horrified at my good luck. Horrified, because how could I not have known who Robert Gordon was? I almost passed on this treasure due to ignorance! Thank God I’ve never listened to the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” In this case, the cover was cool and the album was…what’s a greaser term…BOSS?!
Upon doing my research on, “Fresh Fish Special,” I learned Robert Gordon was a throwback artist of the 1970’s who modeled his career after several performers of the ‘50’s, especially Elvis Presley. In fact, on this particular album his background vocals were provided by The Jordanaires, whom I learned were actually the same individuals to work with Elvis on several recordings. Let me say in many ways The Jordanaires, “make,” this album for me. I can’t help but long for my own team of background vocalists to follow me around in everyday life. Songs like, “Twenty Flight Rock,” and the opening, “The Way I Walk,” make this listener desperately want to hear “Deyoueeyoueeyoueeyoueeyoueeeee…” after every sentence I utter. It’s just so damn cool!
Other noteworthy moments on, “Fresh Fish Special,” revolve around the amazing guitar stylings of musician Link Wray. For this listener a song like, “Lonesome Train,” provides guitar riffs that, “chug,” along hard enough to inspire a frenzied dance that would inspire the likes of Miss Patty Duke. Who knows, maybe Patty was jamming out to the song, “Sea Cruise,” during that shot in the introduction of her show. It’s really too bad for her that Robert Gordon and Link Wray hadn’t yet released their version of this little ditty. Perhaps if they had cousin Cathy would have finally joined in on the fun.
My favorite moments of this album can be found in the songs, “Fire,” and, “Red Cadillac, And A Black Mustache.” Basically, between the fervent singing of Gordon, the intricate playing of Wray, and the basic, but all too true lyrics presented here this listener finds it almost impossible not to sing along…and when I write sing, I mean SING, like from the gut…while snapping her fingers. Note to reader; if you don’t want to make a spectacle of yourself, only listen to this album alone.
Lastly, Gordon’s cover of, “I Want To Be Free,” originally performed by Elvis during the movie, “Jailhouse Rock,” makes this listener almost weepy. During this song one can tell how much respect the 1970’s Robert Gordon had for his predecessor. It’s inspiring to think of an artist so passionate toward a genre of music that he refused to abandon its’ then, “outdated,” style. Listening to this recording in the year 2015 makes me daydream. I listen to the lyrics, “I look out my window and what do I see?” Like Robert Gordon, I too long to see the world of the past and escape all the ugliness of this present date. “I want to be free,” to live in a better time, a time when there was a Patty to every Cathy, and a Gordon to every Wray.