After disbanding his retro-rockabilly crew the Stray Cats, Brian Setzer reinvented himself as a retro-swing big-band leader with the Brian Setzer Orchestra in the early '90s. Like the Cats, they seemingly did one thing, but that one thing encompassed a lot of music -- rock & roll, jump blues, jazz, traditional pop, to start with. Though it encompassed a lot, all the records pretty much remained in the same vein, with each touching on the same themes each time, sometimes more effectively than others. That inconsistent similarity lends itself well to a good compilation, which is what 2003's generous 23-track collection Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Best of the Brian Setzer Orchestra 1994-2000 is. This has all the big singles and all the great album tracks, and while it's not sequenced chronologically, it doesn't matter because the track listing has the propulsion of a good concert (plus, if all the records are variations on the same theme, it doesn't really matter if they don't follow in order of release). It's a fun, rocking good time, an excellent summary of Setzer's strengths in the second phase of his career.
Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Best of the Brian Setzer Orchestra 1994-2000
The Brian Setzer Orchestra / Brian Setzer
Jump, Jive an' Wail: The Best of the Brian Setzer Orchestra 1994-2000 Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine