Rockabilly Riot! All Original - Brian Setzer
by Tara Alexander (@redtalyn)
“An Elvis man would love it.” So says the dark haired, $5 shake ordering heroine of Quentin Tarantino's classic film, 'Pulp Fiction.' And she was right. With his sound set firmly into the world of Rockabilly, Brian Setzer has brought forth a new album that stays true to his roots. From his days as a Stray Cat, rockin the town inside out, and then moving onto swing music with an orchestra, Setzer has changed the perception of Rockabilly, even before there was a name for the genre he helped to pioneer.
With his newest offering, Setzer declares in the liner notes that this album was recorded as is, with no changes or edits made, and with only acoustic instruments save for his trusty electric guitar. He wanted the true spirit of the music to shine through and while some of the tracks may sound a bit similar, the album is fun, light, and enjoyable. The opening track, 'Let's Shake,' makes you want to do just that, as the head nodding, hand clapping tune is executed well with fun, excellent solos by Setzer. The blues genre gets a bit of a makeover in 'Rockabilly Blues,' an upbeat song with a fantastic bass solo and a catchy chorus. In 'Vinyl records,' Setzer brings to light all of the appreciation that should be had with your vinyls, as they are the last true connection to the music world of yesteryear. Getting away with (metaphorical) murder is the object of the next song, 'Lemme Slide,' and with it comes a neat little piano solo that truly showcases the talents of Setzer's backing band. Again, bringing to mind the type of music one would find in a Pulp Fiction-esque film or TV show is the main job of 'Nothing Is A Sure Thing,' an ode to taking risks with life as nothing is ever guaranteed.
Slowing things down a bit is the track 'What's Her Name,' a breakup song that tries to make light of a sour situation. The track feels very reminiscent of Eddie Cochran's 'Summertime Blues,' but doesn't steal from the original tune. The country western inspired song, 'Calamity Jane,' has a great guitar solo and even uses a calliope, a steam powered organ that sounds incredibly cool mixed with the western inspired guitar riffs. Another slower, country western track follows, 'The Girl With Blues in Her Eyes,' utilizing a steel guitar to give it that true country feel. A fast & loose chick is the subject of the next song, 'Stiletto Cool,' a solo heavy track with expert guitar work, then moves on to 'I Should'a Had a V-8,' a song lamenting one's lack of ownership of a faster, better car, not the vegetable drink; using a marching drum beat for the verse and billy guitar for the chorus makes for one unique track that's too cool, daddy-o. In 'Blue Lights, Big City,' the band provides barbershop backup vocals to a soft, melodic tune, and the album ends with the tongue in cheek 'Cock A Doodle Don't,' a funny and quick song that again showcases Setzer's more than capable handling of his electric partner in crime.
Although some people tend to roll their eyes or heave a sigh at the mention of Rockabilly, I found this album to be delightful and justified as Setzer has always played this music, so if anyone were to breathe life back into the genre it should be him. Although some the songs are pretty transparent and mostly talk about getting dressed up, grabbing your girl, and painting the town red, there is still fun to be had and the tunes are catchy enough to stay with you for the rest of the day, if not week. I am glad Setzer is back to doing what he does best and although his look and musical style hasn't changed a bit I don't think he will be stopping anytime soon, and that's just fine with me.