For all the traditional music lovers, there’s very few who’ve been able to say they revitalized an entire genre. In what’s been his first outing in seven years, Rockabilly legend Brian Setzer returns with new music but the same coolness. Pairing with acclaimed producer Julian Raymond (Cheap Trick, Glen Campbell), Setzer busts out 11 new tracks for the road map anthem Gotta Have The Rumble. As the lead singer for rockabilly outfit The Stray Cats, Setzer’s name has always been synonymous with success. Whether with his former band, his Orchestra or just as a soloist. One thing has always remained constant in his career: his uncompromising musical direction. In this record, you’ll find more of the same on what’s worked for the tenured artist.
The first single to drop from the album instantly brings back memories of different generations mixed once again. “Checkered Flag” fires up the old hot rod and races it to the finish line with Setzer behind the wheel. The track is all too familiar with the old school style that the singer had made his own 30-years-ago. But when you’re good at what you do, why change it up? “I still have the same passion for going fast and the adrenaline”, Setzer stated, “I play a hollow top, and the whole thing shakes, and the sound comes back through the guitar. So when I’m standing in front of a little amp it’s not the same.” The remark reflects the track’s unrelenting, loudness which rocks an opener to throw on the old shades and leather jacket. Of course, Setzer wouldn’t have it any other way.
After feeling like you’ve been transported to a 50s fever dream, you can’t help but keep the ride along going. Setzer has always masterfully grabbed the attention of listeners with catchy lyrics and an easy beat to groove to. “Smash Up On Highway One” wrangles old desperadoes in a vibe that has elements of rock, swing and sitar. The snake-like charming solos of this track fuels how the songwriter can effortlessly combine genres into one. Even at his accelerated age, Setzer shows he hasn’t lost any soul in his guitar work. The track rages alongside a black-and-white music video that’s as visceral as the song compels.
For those whose only familiarity with 50s culture is through the grainy videos of Elvis Presley in his prime, or the musical spectacle Grease, it’s okay to admit that. Setzer exhibits that no rockabilly swing-off would be complete without a track that makes you run to the dance floor. “The Cat With 9 Wives” unveils an old generation’s dance culture of the genre that riles out good times. While it’s something that you might prefer throwing on the jukebox at your local diner/soda shop, there’s no doubt Setzer can steal the show with any tune on the album. With blistering guitar solos and a steady rhythm section, you can work up a sweat from just listening to the track.
The heavy rhythm and powerhouse instrumentals all convey the lead singer’s ability to still entertain at a high level. But the underlying issue of combating the hearing problem of tinnitus left Setzer fearful of the future. This album shows out all his passions for cars and motorcycles with a humble note of thankfulness for recovery. With Setzer starting the rumble of his career once again, fans and new listeners can experience how few can make an old-style sound so new and refreshing. As he stated, “I just want to ride this, I don’t have a plan. I just want to enjoy this.” Everyone can feel the rumble with this album now available across all social platforms. Experience it for yourself.
Written by Trenton Luber