Stray Cats

Greatest Hits [2000]

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One of the great unspoken things about the Stray Cats is that they just didn't have that many hits. In America, they had three Top Ten singles -- "Rock This Town," "Stray Cat Strut," "(She's) Sexy + 17" -- plus the ballad "I Won't Stand in Your Way," which just scraped the Top 40. The fact that the Stray Cats were so fondly remembered not only by kids of the early '80s, but by older and younger listeners alike, just shows how good those three hits are; they really held their own next to any '50s rockabilly classic. However, they're not all the Stray Cats had to offer, as the 2000 expanded version of Greatest Hits illustrates. True, apart from such U.K. hits as "Runaway Boys," they didn't really have original tunes that rivaled their three big hits, but they were a kick-ass rockabilly band, making their newly written genre items sound every bit as convincing as their fine cover of Gene Vincent's "Race with the Devil." The group was fortunate to choose a producer as savvy as Dave Edmunds, the roots rock trailblazer who captured the Stray Cats' muscular, energetic sound with recordings that would have sounded fine in the '50s yet managed to sound contemporary in the early '80s. Of course, that production trick wouldn't have amounted to much if that wasn't what the Cats were doing with their music anyway. These 14 songs -- plus three bonus tracks -- are as good as rockabilly revival has ever gotten. Not only that, these songs also offer a convincing argument that the Stray Cats really did hold their own with their idols. In other words, it's the definitive compilation.

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