Set ‘Em Up Joe

Set ‘Em Up Joe

Set ‘Em Up Joe


Are you like me, are you sick to death of the whole swing thing — the clichés, the zoot-suited idiots, the untalented bands jumping on the bandwagon to make a quick buck — but you still have respect for the old school masters? Then try this on for size. On their self-titled debut, Set ‘Em Up Joe deftly avoid most of the clichés (OK, the first song’s called “Mr. Zoot Suit,” but that’s the exception, not the rule) and manage to turn out what I thought wasn’t possible anymore — a fresh-sounding modern swing record. They manage to do this by showcasing a mature sound based on solid jazz roots — you can tell these guys didn’t just pick up their instruments after seeing Swingers one too many times — with just a little flavor of old-school R&B and early rock n’ roll thrown in. Highlights include “(Let Me) Cater Your Next Affair,” “Gino Goes Wild,” the peppy “Gasoline,” the witty “Hit Me With a Hot Dog,” and the torchy closing duet, “Brooklyn Hearted.” Really, though, there isn’t a misstep to be found here. This record will remind you why you loved the early swing classics, without sounding like grave robbery. I just wish this had come out before the swing thing had been played into the ground…

Royalty Records, 176 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016;

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