Brian Setzer •68 Comeback Special
Those Brian Setzer fans who•ve been displeased with the former Stray Cat•s recent forays into swing with his eponymous Orchestra (especially the slick Vegas-isms of last year•s disappointing Vavoom!) will find his newest band, Brian Setzer •68 Comeback Special, aptly named , indeed. As the appelation•s obvious Elvis allusions would suggest, Setzer returns to his rockabilly roots with the Comeback Special•s debut album, Ignition! Boasting a rootsy sound that•s even more authentic than that of The Stray Cats, Ignition!•s cover copy boldly declares that the record contains •14 brand new hot rod songs and makeout tunes,• and a stripped-down three-piece (boasting Brian Setzer Orchestra drummer Bernie Dresel and slap-bassist Mark W. Winchester alongside Setzer•s inimitable vocals and guitar) delivers the goods. The sound is more traditional than that of modern psychobillists like The Reverend Horton Heat and The Amazing Crowns, but that•s not to imply that these tunes are missing any of those bands• energy or velocity — to the contrary, this record should appeal to both the rockabilly traditionalist and the fan of the more modern, punk-influenced bands. Highlights include the slap-bass-happy title track, the cool call-and-response of •Hot Rod Girl,• the wistful and nostalgic ••59,• the Tex-Mex-inflected •Santa Rosa Rita,• and the punky •Get •Em On the Ropes,• but my personal favorites are two of the record•s more country-tinged tunes, •8-Track• (with some simply amazing yodeling from Setzer) •Rooster Rock• (which puts me in the mind of Rev. Horton Heat tracks like •Bad Reputation• and •It•s Martini Time• with its emphasis on a slightly mellower mood and a jazzy guitar line). Really, though, there•s not a bad track on this record — a rare occurrence in this day and age! Ignition! is a fantastic return to form that proves that old greasers don•t die, they just keep getting better! Even though Setzer never really went away, I•m sure glad to see him make this Comeback!
Surfdog Records, 1126 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024; http://www.surfdog.com