The Stray Cats // ‘Rocked This Town – From LA to London’ // Album Review
After the release of their latest album ‘40’ in 2019, the Stray Cats are back with a new album via Surfdog Records on 11th September 2020. Appropriately titled ‘Rocked This Town – from LA to London’, the album is a compilation of live recordings that have been collated during their 40th Anniversary Tour.
Having grown up listening to the Stray Cats since the early ’80s, their rockabilly style is just as hip as it was all those years ago. There was nothing like the sound of that stylus on your record player being dropped onto a fresh piece of vinyl you’d spent ages saving your pocket money for. You just had to be careful that you didn’t select the ‘78’ speed button by mistake.
The Stray Cats are one of the few bands that have been around for 40 years with no real change in band members despite several breaks in this time which has seen them delve into other projects.Brian Setzer formed the successful ‘Brian Setzer Orchestra’ whilst Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom joined David Bowie’s guitarist Earl Slick to create the trio ‘Phantom, Rocker & Slick’.Since then, the band has reunited for several tours with a huge following.
With a mammoth 23 tracks on the album, it’s packed with classics from their first three studio albums such as ‘Runaway Boys’, ‘Sexy & 17’, and ‘Built for Speed’, with each one played as authentically as it was back in the ’80s.Their gusto certainly hasn’t wilted over their 40 years of performing live.The riffs that Brian Setzer creates on his Gretsch should be patented as he blasts out streams of foot-tapping rockabilly guitar solos, whilst Lee Rocker slaps his double bass in time with Slim Jim Phantom on his minimalistic drum kit. But the sound they produce track after track is an utter powerhouse of pure rockabilly gratification.
Not only is the album a mix of hits from earlier days, but it also includes some more recent work that just seems to fit in nicely.There’s plenty of interaction with the crowd from Setzer in between tracks with some tasty guitar solos in ‘Cannonball Rag’ and Setzer’s rendition of Dick Dale’s infamous hit ‘Misirlou’ as featured in Pulp Fiction. His Gretsch portrays the perfect sound and it’s no wonder Gretsch has released a ‘Signature Nashville’ hollow-bodied guitar in his name.
Although these guys have been around for some time now, they’re not showing any signs of giving up just yet.Their energy and zeal is exposed in all of the tracks, both old and new proving that the band has matured like a fine wine.
There is just one little niggle.As the tracks were recorded at different venues during their 40th Anniversary Tour, the transition from one track to another could be a bit smoother – especially with 23 tracks to listen to. But not a major problem whatsoever and shouldn’t put you off giving this album a play.
For those of you who are fortunate to still have a quiff to shake, this is one for your rockabilly collection. Setzer, Rocker, and Phantom are back to ‘rock your town’. Pass me the Brylcreem.
THE STRAY CATSNEW LIVE ALBUM ‘ROCKED THIS TOWN: FROM LA TO LONDON’ IS AVAILABLE ON SEPTEMBER 11 VIA SURFDOG RECORDS