Stray Cats – Built for Speed
If you ask someone on the street to name a rockabilly band, odds are they’ll say “Stray Cats.” That’s because, for better or worse, they became the face of the Rockabilly revival in the early 80s, with the hits “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” becoming radio staples that frequently grace the airwaves to this day. They knew what they were doing (even so much as moving to England to spearhead the burgeoning revival there) and they were/are VERY GOOD at it. Built For Speed is a solid example of the genre as well as an excellent guitar album. Brian Setzer’s killer play style jangles when he’s doing rhythm and sears when he jumps into one of his blistering solos. All played over a buffet of walking bass lines and boisterous drums. Every song on Built For Speed will have you tapping your toes to the Cat’s swinging sound.
My first experience with Brian Setzer was back in my freshman year in high school when he was practically leading the swing revival (that’s TWO revivals he spearheaded). To be honest, he didn’t do much for me then and it wasn’t until I learned about the Stray Cats that I took notice. Their brand of foot-stompin’ rock and roll opened the door to a whole genre of music I had previously neglected. Now, bands like the Stray Cats, The Phenomonauts, Horror Pops, and the (Sound Selections alum) Flat Duo Jets regularly play on my stereo. It’s a style of music that really gets you going and once that door is open, it’s a fun and interesting deep dive into a seemingly overlooked genre that’s well-worth it when you take the leap.