Brian Setzer‘s been through a few incarnations of swaggerin’, swingin’ hepcat, from the rock of the Stray Cats to his 17-piece Orchestra that helped usher in the neo-swing craze back in the late ‘90s. He’s always had big hair and big dreams of sharing the earliest counter-culture music with the world, though, and on this tribute to Sun Records, early home of luminaries like Johnny Cash and Elvis, he’s here to remind us all that there’s more than one kind of retro.
A fresh break from the ‘70s and ‘80s throwbacks all over hipsters’ stereos lately, Rockabilly Riot is 23 songs’ worth of the sexy insanity that happened when country met R&B, realized she was a fox, and took her home for some red hot lovin’. You’ll recognize “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Get Rhythm,” if nothing else, and possibly some others. But I guarantee you’ll think at least a few of the songs are new compositions. They aren’t, but they sound fresh, raw, and surprisingly dirty–they’ll take you right back to the days when Elvis’s pelvis was too much for TV.
Setzer’s vocal treatment of each song is subtly different, a tribute to the artists who performed each of them, and they appreciate the effort–71-year-old Sun Records legend Gene Simmons and the Jordanaires add backup vocals to a couple of tracks. Every detail on this album had to be perfect, down to the vintage microphones, piano, upright bass, and classic drums.
The question remains, then, how will Setzer follow this up? After all, the record boldly declares this to be “Volume One.” Maybe an album of originals, recorded with this kind of authenticity and attention to detail…after all, the 80s are bound to be played out soon.