Who'd have thought that former rockabilly bad boy Brian Setzer's fondest dream was to lead a swinging big band? Setzer and his 17-piece band strut through a set of standards and originals, all featuring his growling guitar and vocals. The disc kicks off in high gear with screeching trumpet and a quintet of sweet saxes before Setzer fills up the room with the originals "Lady Luck" and "Ball and Chain." Both feature witty lyrics that recall the smoke-filled bars and dance halls of the '40s and '50s while still sounding contemporary. That's the trick Setzer maintains throughout the whole record: the style references Louis Jordan and Louis Prima through Count Basie and Henry Mancini, but the band is powerful and tight as a drum. The swing is natural and never dated, and the sound is as in-your-face as the Stray Cats ever were. However, on the slower numbers, Setzer's vocal limitations are evident; he sounds more like Dino than Frankie. Both "Route 66" and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" pale in comparison to other recent versions by Natalie Cole or the Manhattan Transfer. But, as he remakes Carl Perkins, Al Jolson, and even his own Stray Cats past, Setzer swings throughout in a way that makes it obvious he both enjoys and understands the music. More vital than anything by any of the ghost bands, and more enjoyable as well, this recording set the stage for the '90s swing movement that included Royal Crown Revue and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Subsequent LPs by Setzer and band proved it was no fluke.
AllMusic Review by Ross Boissoneau