The Stray Cats
Break Out The Brylcreem and Rev Up The Rat Rod ….. They’re Back!!!!
What’s left to say about The Stray Cats, apart from…….. why has taken 26 bloody years to get back together and record an album?????
I guess I know the answer, as all three founder members have gone on to have fairly succesful post-Cats careers; especially Brian Setzer with the variants on his ‘Orchestra’, but Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker have had their own moments in the spotlight too over the last quarter century too; but does anything really compare to The Stray Cats in full flow?
The fabulous single Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me) simply fizzes with teenage hormones; and I can’t think of any better way to get this particular party started, with all three cats coming together like the coolest gang in town; the type that scares you a little bit, but makes you want to be their mates too.
What the Hell’s not to like about good time greasy Rock & Roll?
For a three piece band, with very limited instrumentation The Stray Cats really can kick up a mighty fine ruckus; but in a seamlessly classy way too, with Three’s a Charm, Mean Pickin’ Mama and Devil Train all crossing the boundary that makes you wonder if this is Rockabilly or Honky-Tonk Country ……. but that’s where this glorious type of music came from isn’t it? Then when Setzer sets his guitar to stun on I Attract Trouble, there’s even a hint of Dick Dale’s Surf classics in the mix too; and with the Psycho Blues mash-up Cry Danger and the sexually swaggering R&B of Rock It Off and That’s Messed Up The Stray Cats really do prove Rock and Roll really is the bastard child of popular music!
Every single track here could easily have been a Hit Single in every decade from the 1950’s until now; and I can give you an articulate argument as to why we need this music today more than ever before!
Which all brings me to my two Favourite Tracks, the Hank B Marvin aka The Shadows influenced instrumental Desperado is not just timeless, but futuristic too and really does showcase what excellent musicians this undervalued trio really are; and the other is the feisty I’ve Got Love If You Want It, which obviously nods in the direction of our favourite ever Rockers Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Elvis (especially the way Setzer sneers a couple of line) but this is ultimately the best Stray Cats song since Sexy and 17 IMHO.
It’s a bit weird that a band like this can come full circle after 40 years in the business (hence the title 40) and sound not just as sharp as a cut-throat razor but with this bunch of well written, well constructed and fundamentally danceably fun songs ……. be just as relevant and necessary today in 2019 than ever before.