Stray Cats

Rumble in Brixton

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This rather short double-disc package documents the British dates of the re-formed 2004 Stray Cats, specifically one show in Brixton. The 22-song set includes all of their big hits, a handful of logical if intriguing covers ("Ubangi Stomp," "My Baby Left Me," "That's All Right," "Good Rockin' Tonight," and "Twenty Flight Rock"), and even a new studio track, the trio's first original composition in a decade. Although the band hadn't played together in a while, all of the members have stayed busy and their chops are as sharp -- if not sharper -- than in the old days. Additionally, England is where they first made a popular splash, so they are obviously thrilled to be back on their old stomping grounds, adding to the edgy sense of excitement in the performance. Most of these concert renditions are hotter and hence arguably better than the previously recorded counterparts, and the Cats' manic enthusiasm bursts out of the speakers, even without the accompanying DVD visuals. As the only member who went on to a formidable solo career, guitarist/singer/frontman Brian Setzer sounds particularly inspired as he tears into these nuggets, most of which, like the trusty vamp "Stray Cat Strut," are over two decades old. Setzer even occasionally relinquishes the vocal spotlight to bassist Lee Rocker, who is a more than adequate and underappreciated singer. The intense energy level never lets up as the bandmembers charge through the set with a sweaty fire it's doubtful they could have mustered even in their prime. The new studio song tacked on as the last cut, "Mystery Train Kept A Rollin'," is a rockabilly tribute to Elvis and his Sun Records contemporaries that won't set new standards for the Cats, but is an indication that there is still plenty of gas in the group's tank. Editing out a track or two would have allowed the entire gig to fit on a single disc instead of expanding it to two short ones, but otherwise the Stray Cats' first official live album is worth the extended wait.

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