Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Travis Wammack-Scratchy

Travis Wammack is one of those names, you think you've seen it somewhere but you can't quite place it. Wammack was a session guitarist and later enjoyed some solo success in the early 70's recording at FAME studios and releasing albums on Phil Walden's Capricorn label.

Travis Wammack hailed form Walnut Mississippi he recorded is first song at 11 for the Fernwood label, in his teens he was working regularly as a session musician for Roland Jane's Sonic studios in Memphis. This studio was an early pre-cursor to Chips Moman American which started in the mid 1960's, a lot of the musicians who went to work for Chips got their start cutting sessions with Roland Janes. One of Roland Jane's productions was Matt Lucas who I have reviewed on this blog, Wammack played guitar on some of his 45 releases including his cover of Bobby Bland's Turn on Your Lovelight.

He would later work at Rick Hall's FAME studios playing on seesions for Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. In the early 70's he had two chart records, Evil Ways and (Shu Du Pa Poo Poop) Love Being Your Fool which cracked the U.S Top 40. One of his most enduring records is Scratchy which was released on the ARA label in 1964 and reached #80 on the billboard chart. It's a proto garage surf instrumental but in a very twisted and distorted way, with some clean picking from Wammack. Whilst it has a surf styled beat it has some very bluesy guitar riffs, then in the middle the song cuts out and some crazy noise emits, it was some sort of monologue played backwards. The song is very sparse, the bass is way back in the mix looking at the song credits the name Chrisman pops up which I'm assuming would be drummer Gene Chrisman, that would explain the crisp drumming on the record.. It has a nice bluesy ending with some scorching guitar.

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