Rocked This Town: From L.A. To London

Stray Cats

Surf Dog, 2020

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


The Stray Cats burst upon the music scene in 1979 with a modernized late 1950s rockabilly sound. Their signature song, “Rock This Town,” was named by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as one of the songs that helped shape rock ‘n’ roll. Brian Setzer, Les Rocker, and Slim Jim Phantom have since split and reunited a number of times.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Their latest reunion was for their 40th anniversary. They issued a new studio album and set out on a world tour. They have just released a new live album, Rock This Town: From L.A. To London, recorded from various concerts on their tour.

The band has retained its energy, which is necessary as their songs tend to be brief blasts of sound. While Setzer has experimented with other styles as a solo artist, when he’s with the Stray Cats, he has a stripped-down rockabilly sound. The album’s 23 tracks are a combination of the old and new, plus one excellent instrumental cover of the surf classic “Misilou.”

The well-known songs retain their original flavor with only a little updating. “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut,” “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” and Built For Speed” are instantly recognizable, presented here in classic form. They do not stray from the original studio recordings very much, but it is their energy that keeps the material relevant. Their newer material, including the cut “Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me),” and some forays into their lesser-known material keep the album from being just a greatest hits re-hash.

While I prefer complete concerts, Rock This Town: From L.A. To London presents a complete introduction to the band’s past and present. After four decades, The Stray Cats are who they are and on this live recording, that is more than enough.

Rating: B+

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