Stray Cats - 40

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The Stray Cats are back and strutting down the alley once again! In honor of the band's 40th anniversary, the trio of guitarist Brian Setzer, bass man Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom have reunited and cut their first new album in 26-years, appropriately titled 40. "Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me)" begins the effort on a really fun note as Setzer sings about how "the claws came out" and "the fur was flying" while relating the story of how two women get into a dustup over a guy; the singer's scream at the end of the song maybe indicates that this fellow didn't end up with either of the fighting felines. Rocker's bass slappin' rhythm drives "I've Got Love if You Want It," a cut that vocally nods to early Jerry Lee Lewis. "Cry Danger" on the other hand has a guitar riff that reminds a bit of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" as the Cats step away from their rockabilly roots; the fact that former Heartbreakers guitarist and current member of Fleetwood Mac Mike Campbell co-wrote the song may have something to do with the cut's rockier bent. "Three Times the Charm" is classic-sounding Stray Cats rockabilly meant to pack the dance floor, "That's Messed Up" is a swinging and bluesy mid-tempo jam while "When Nothing's Going Right," the album's only cut written by Rocker, has the bass man setting his bull fiddle aside in favor of an electric bass. "Desperado" is a twangy, Setzer-penned instrumental; the cut sounds like music that would play right before a high noon gunfight breaks out in a spaghetti western. The album ends with a trio of hopped-up rockabilly cuts; "Mean Pickin' Mama," "I'll be Looking out for You" and the raucous "Devil Train." 40 will satisfy longtime fans and newbies too; surely no mean old men will be throwing shoes. The Stray Cats are currently wrapping up a European tour and they'll embark on a brief U.S. run in early August.

Stray Cats - 40

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