Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Built For Speed... The Stray Cats Story...Show # 239

The Stray Cats formed in 1979. Consisting of Brian Setzer (vocals/guitar), Slim Jim Phantom (drums), and Lee Rocker on bass, the band originate from Long Island, New York. The Stray Cats were influenced by bands such as Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry. The music of the band was heavily influenced by 50's rock, but this did not go over well in New York. With and emerging 50's revival scene going on in the UK, The Stray Cats moved there. Along with the Teddy Boy youth subculture (which was a 50's revival scene there), The Stray Cats fit right in. Drawing all these influences the group played their rockabilly music with the energy of punk that was also emerging in the UK at this time.

While in London, the band met Dave Edmunds after a gig. Known for his work with Rockpile and for being a roots rock enthusiast, Edmunds offered to help the group record and album, they accepted. The result was Stray Cats, released in 1981 in England on Arista Records. The album was a hit. It contained three of the bands best known songs, "Stray Cat Strut" (#11 on the UK singles charts), "Rumble in Brighton", and "Rock This Town" (#9 on the UK singles charts). The album also contained "Runaway Boys", which was a hit in the UK (#9 on the UK singles charts). The band released Gonna Ball in 1981 next. The album did not do very well and was not as successful in the UK. Despite this fact, this was enough proof for EMI to sign the band in America.

Built for Speed was released in the US in 1982. The album was a combination of songs from the bands first two UK albums. The album took six tracks from Stray Cats ("Rock This Town", "Stray Cat Strut", "Rumble in Brighton", "Jennie, Jennie, Jennie", and "Double Talkin' Baby"), and five tracks from Gonna Ball ("Baby Blue Eyes", "Little Miss Prissy", "You Don't Believe Me", "Rev It Up & Go", and "Lonely Summer Nights"). The album also included the title track "Built For Speed", which at the time wasn't available in the UK. The album was a big hit in the US, "Rock This Town" went to #9 on the US singles charts, and "Stray Cat Strut" went to #3 on the US singles charts; The band also got a lot of airplay on MTV. The bands second album released in the US was Rant 'n Rave with the Stray Cats. Released in 1983, the album produced a top ten hit with the song "(She's) Sexy + 17".

In 1984 after the band had experienced their new success, tensions and conflicts built amongst band members. This would lead to the band splitting up the very same year. The band would go onto to other musical projects, but in 1986 they reformed. They recorded an album primarily consisting of cover songs called Rock Therapy. The album did not sell very well and the group would split up again going on to their previous post-Stray Cats musical projects, but it would not last long because the band would reunite yet again in 1989. They recorded the album Blast Off and supported it with a tour. The band released an album in 1990 titled Let's Go Faster (it was the bands first album not released on EMI America). In 1992, the band released Choo Choo Hot Fish, and a covers album Original Cool in 1993. The band called it quits again after this, but have reunited sporadically ever since. In 2002, Forever Gold was released, it was an album of live tracks and acoustic recordings. In 2004, Rumble in Brixton was released which was an album of live recordings taken from their 2004 European tour. The Stray Cats are an energetic exciting Rockabilly band that continue to tour.

Brian Setzer released his first solo album The Knife Feels Like Justice in 1986. In the 90's he formed The Brian Setzer Orchestra, they are a big 17 piece band who had a hit in 1998 with the song "Jump, Jive, an' Wail!". Setzer has continued to release both solo albums and Brian Setzer Orchestra albums sporadically. Other Stray Cats members have also been in other groups. Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom formed the Swing Cats and have both released solo material. In addition to this Phantom also plays drums in 13 Cats, who are a rockabilly band. He has also played with the band The Head Cats, with Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) and Danny Harvey (13 Cats).

Songs Played This Week:

1. Them - I Can Only Give You Everything
2. The Remains - Don't Look Back
3. The Count Five - People Hear What I Say
4. The Black Lips - Take My Heart
5. The Howlies - Dirty Woman
6. The Velvet Underground - What Goes On
7. Painted Ship - Little White Lies
8. Tom Northcott Trio - Just Don't
9. 49th Parallel - You Do Things
10. Main Line - Don't Wait Around
11. The Haunted - Shake
12. Lilly Allen Featuring Mick Jones - Straight to Hell
13. The Rapture - Heaven
14. The Kooks - Victoria
15. The Kinks - Don't Ever Let Me Go
16. The Beatles - If You've Got Trouble
17. The Cramps - Garbageman
18. Vince Taylor & His Playboys - Brand New Cadillac
19. The Stray Cats - Runaway Boys
20. The Ugly Ducklings - Gaslight
21. The Gruesomes - You're Not the Boss of Me
22. The Hellacopters - Gotta Get Some Action Now!
23. The Stooges - Down On the Street
24. The 13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
25. New York Dolls - Trash
26. The Pretty Things - Midnight To Six Man

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on March, 9th 2009.

Stray Cat Vidoes:

Rock This Town (Live Fridays 1981)
Baby Blue Eyes (Live Fridays 1981)
Stray Cat Strut (Live 1981)
Rumble In Brighton (Live Rockpalast 1981)
(She's) Sexy + 17
Look At That Cadillac


Anonymous said...

what goes on, thats the song i was listening to on the way to school and i couldnt figure it out lol.


The Wolfmen said...

What a great piece - Setzer is an incredible guitarist - See the Velvet's are on your playlist - have you heard Not A Young Man Anymore? The Wolfmen are covering it the new album - you can hear some clips on the blog