The STRAY CATS–Brian Setzer (guitar, vocals), Lee Rocker (bass, vocals) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums, vocals)–came back strong this year with red-hot shows and the critically acclaimed album, 40. It’s their first new album in 26 years and one celebrating the iconic American rock and roll trio’s 40th anniversary. Issued by Surfdog Records and distributed by BMG (CD, vinyl, digital), the album spun off four singles: “Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me),” “Rock It Off,” “Cry Danger” and the latest, “Desperado,” described by the Washington Post as an “instrumental that could have been plucked from one of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns” (5/21/19).
“Reverb and tape delay–I love those two sounds,” says Setzer about “Desperado.” I was thinking of a Clint Eastwood movie. He’s in the desert waiting for someone to come over that he could shoot.” The recently released “Desperado” video blends scenes from vintage spaghetti western films and old beach movies for a crazy-fun pop culture mash-up.
“I think Brian keeps in mind what everyone’s strengths are,” Slim Jim Phantom told Newsday (5/14/19) about the material on 40. “There’s one track that I was very flattered to hear he wrote for me called ‘Three Times a Charm’ and it was very much him imagining me doing the thing like Gene Vincent had Dickie Harrell do, where the drums answer the singing and part of the riff is the drum part.”
40, released May 24, entered the charts at #1 on the Current Rock chart; #3 on the Indie chart; and #5 on the Billboard Album Sales chart. This marks the group’s highest entries since 1983’s Built For Speed, which was released 36 years ago. American Songwriter declared “The Stray Cats remain a well-oiled machine, as super charged in 2019 as they were 40 years earlier (5/21/19), while All Music noted: “Comfortable in their skin and still intoxicated by a big rockabilly beat, the Stray Cats sound vigorous and sly…(5/24/19).”
On the live front, The Stray Cats toured America from August 2-September 1 (presented by SiriusXM) on the heels of June and July overseas shows. The seeds for the reunion were planted in April 2018 when the Stray Cats performed at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend festival. As Lee Rocker told the Washington Post (5/21/19), recalling the moments waiting in the wings before the band walked onstage: “It was just me, Brian and Jim. ‘C’mon Everybody’ on the sound system and 20,000 people and the sound of that crowd. That was really something that I won’t forget. And I don’t even know what it was. But it definitely hit me. It was one of those moments that you know you just swallow and you go, ‘Wow.'”
About The STRAY CATS:
The STRAY CATS, the band that put Rockabilly music back on the record charts in the early ’80s, scored several big hits on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to a striking visual 1950’s style brought “up to date” with exaggerated pompadours and colorful tattoos and as well as genuine musical chops that evoked the best players of rockabilly’s original heyday. Formed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bass player Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom in the Long Island town of Massapequa, NY, in 1979, the trio shared a love for Rockabilly music. After banging around New York for a few months, in the summer of 1980, and seeing a pompadoured kid on the cover of UK magazine NME, they hopped a plane to London where a rockabilly revival movement was just beginning to emerge. Their massive hits and videos include “Runaway Boys,” “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut” “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” and “I Won’t Stand in Your Way.”
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