The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Guitar Slinger – Review

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Guitar Slinger (Interscope)
by Clarendon Lavorich
illustration by Kevin Banks

Brian Setzer, the Stray Cat that started it all, gets a little class but keeps on rockin’ till dawn. He’s gathered a 17-piece big band around him, and they’re blowin’ hard and long on Guitar Slinger. It’s a wonderful combination: Rockabilly with a full horn section hootin’ and hollerin’ and causing all sorts of ruckus. There’s no way to keep your feet from tapping, the sap from rising, or to stay sitting down. Excuse me while I boogie just a little bit.

Ah, that’s better. Brian Setzer has only gotten better, sticking to his guns and his roots, bringing music from the gut, from the SRV cover of “The House is Rockin'” to a new version of the Stray Cats tune “Rumble in Brighton,” a showdown of Skins vs. Greasers. But the Rockabilly sound’s not the only thing he offers up on this slab o’ wax. He smooths it out, butters it up, lays it down cool with sweet tracks like “My Baby Only Cares For Me,” or “Sammy Davis City.” “Ghost Radio,” a song about a trucker and a broadcast from 1935, was written with Joe Strummer, and cooks with gas. “Every Time I Hear That Mellow Saxophone” is full of infectious classic dance beats that tear up the stereo while trumpets shriek and howl and saxophones croon and bop. Roll up the rug, invite you friends over, play Guitar Slinger, and you’ve got an instant sock hop. Fantastic.