Lee Rocker Live

Lee Rocker

J-Bird Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In the wake of the brief rockabilly revival that hit pop music in the '80s, as well as the solo career that Brian Setzer has taken to new heights, one tends to forget that it was three distinct individuals who were the heart of the Stray Cats. Bassist Lee Rocker was one of those people - and he's quickly proving that he could just as well have been the frontman for his former group.

These beliefs are confirmed on Lee Rocker Live, a regrettably short disc that captures Rocker with his new band performing not only traditional rockabilly, but also some more cutting-edge material that fits the group (and his own style) well. Rocker also proves that he's got as solid a set of pipes as Setzer's.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One early note of regret, besides the disc's clocking in at a mere 35 minutes: the liner notes give no clue as to when or where this show was recorded. A small point, to be sure, but I'm one of those people who actually likes to know a little history about the recordings.

Rocker's band - guitarist/vocalist Adrian DeMain, guitarist/slide guitarist/vocalist Brophy Dale and drummer Jimmy Sage - have nearly the same kind of magic that Rocker's old outfit did, even if the guitar work isn't always as sizzling as you'd expect it to be. The solos on their take of Carl Perkins's "Restless," for example, seem a little tentative, and leave something to be desired. Then again, the misfires on this disc by any of the musicians are few and far between.

Rocker dares to dip into his own musical past with "Miracle In Memphis," a track which shows his talents as a songwriter. (Part of the credit should also go to former bandmate Slim Jim Phantom on this one for his writing contribution.) Rocker's other two songwriting contributions, "Love Me Good" and "Little Buster," are just as inspiring, and are a lot of fun to listen to.

But where Rocker surprises on Lee Rocker Live is when he dares to move away from straight rockabilly to something a little more conventional. Neither "The Red Neck Mama" nor "Little Piece Of Your Love" could be called pure rockabilly, but Rocker attacks them with the same gusto and skills as the other songs on this set. Special attention goes to his cover of "Please Don't Touch" - I never realized just how close to the bone Motorhead kept their cover. (No joke.)

Lee Rocker Live proves not only that rockabilly is still alive, but that it is still an exciting form of music that has its admirers and screaming fans. Rocker shines in his role as band leader, and it almost makes you wonder if fate would have been different had he been the leader of the Stray Cats.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of J-Bird Records, and is used for informational purposes only.