A belated sequel to Brian Setzer's original Rockabilly Riot -- a salute to Sun Records that appeared way back in 2005, while a live record under that rubric appeared in 2012 -- 2014's Rockabilly Riot! All Original is distinguished by that distinction in its subtitle: this is not a collection of covers but rather a bunch of new songs penned by Setzer. Of course, you would be forgiven for thinking some of these 12 tracks are covers because Setzer does shuffle riffs, references, lyrics, and riffs so he brings to mind a bunch of beloved classics. "Let's Shake" barrels along like "Breathless" and "Lemme Slide" alludes to another Jerry Lee classic called "End of the Road," "Blue Lights, Big City" cops a bit of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," "Nothing Is a Sure Thing" opens with a bit of spooky reverb straight out of "Shakin' All Over," while "What's Her Name?" also rides some of that Johnny Kidd & the Pirates rhythm while dropping a reference to Ray Charles' classic "Drown in My Own Tears." Sometimes the allusions are a little elliptical -- he sets the hot rod ode "I Should'a Had a V-8" to a march straight out of Johnny Horton -- but that's part of the fun of the record; Setzer enjoys rummaging through the past and it's hard not to smile as he tips his hat to his idols. If he no longer has the vocal chops to pull off a big ballad like "The Girl with the Blues in Her Eyes" and if he's adding just a bit too many call-and-response backing vocals to the mix, ultimately it doesn't matter because hearing him play fresh material is a bit of a gas and certainly welcome after many years of Christmas and covers records.
Rockabilly Riot! All Original Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine