As much as things change, they remain the same. I’ve been a fan of certain bands all my life. It’s ironic that in some of my most challenging times, my music heroes have released new music or some facsimile thereof. For all of us, we can celebrate together the release of a Stray Cats album.
If you’re not familiar with Stray Cats, here’s the skinny. They are cool, collective, dapper dressers, and brought us electric rockabilly tunes back in the days of black leather jackets, slicked back hair, and lots and lots of day-glow. Yes, I’m talking about the ‘80s!
They put rockabilly back on the map with hits like “Rock This Town,” “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” “Runaway Boys,” “I Won’t Stand in Your Way,” and “Stray Cat Strut.”
Their onstage persona was only matched by their MTV videos that blew up and became part of Americana.
They literally brought a striking visual of the 1950’s style back to life with their exaggerated pompadours and those volcanic and colorful tattoos.
The band has had its ups and downs, and sabbaticals, but they’re back at it. If it wasn’t for the 2020 global pandemic, you’d think you were back in the ‘80s with how much they were going to be out and about. The core band remains intact with guitarist and lead vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bass player Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom.
BUILT FOR SPEED
“The Stray Cats are ALL about the chemistry between us. Every night it’s different, every time we hit the stage and play “Rock This Town” or “Stray Cat Strut.” It’s different and unique. It’s the magic, it’s the secret, it’s what make us the Stray Cats.”
Stray Cats released their live album, “Rocked This Town: From LA to London” and it contains 23 tracks recorded during last year’s 40th Anniversary Tour. About the tour, Setzer said, “The first thing I noticed last summer was that we had spread out on stage. I guess over the years, as the crowds got bigger, we spread out more. I discovered we needed to be close together like we were still playing in our garages. That really brought the band back together. As long as we’re within an ear-shot and eye-shot of each, the magic just happens.”
Rocker said, “The secret of the Stray Cats is that every time we hit the stage, it’s with 110% laser focus. Brian, Jim and I challenge each other every night to raise the bar and rock harder!”
As for Phantom, he said, “The secret of a great Cats show is keeping it rocking and relaxed all at once which is the hardest thing for any band to do, especially in a fast-paced musical style like rockabilly where there’s a fine line between being wild and rocking and being out of control. “
He went on to say “We’ve done so many shows and know each other so well as musicians that everyone is on the same wavelength with knowing when to let it loose and when to hold it back just a little–that’s what makes any band good. As a band you need to steer the audience and keep them with you all at once–you can’t just go out there and wear everybody out right away!”
In regards to the album itself, Setzer said, “Even after a two-and-a half month tour, we barely made a scratch in the amount of cities that you can visit. I feel we definitely needed a live album so that people who couldn’t make our shows could get to experience a Stray Cats show. I realized that besides the songs from our new album “40,” people were singing along with practically every song. This represented to me that the Stray Cats were much more than hit records. We had created life-long fans.”
Rocker added, “This live record really captures what we are about. It’s our best songs played with sweat, passion and attitude. It’s the soundtrack of my life.”
Phantom finished with, “We opened the show with “Cat Fight,” which is a new song, that sets the tone right away that this is not just some oldies, greatest hits gig. We felt it was very important to have new songs for the tour, and then to open the show with a brand new one is a pretty bad ass move if you ask me–everybody knows the hits are coming, the fun is how you get there.”
If you want to hear music that will make you shake, rattle and roll; check out pure joy with The Stray Cats ROCKED THIS TOWN: FROM LA TO LONDON.