Friday, June 21, 2024

Brian Setzer convinces us that The Devil Always Collects

Usually, when you hear the name Brian Setzer, the first thought will be of the Stray Cats…which is fair enough but runs the risk of forgetting his other works: the 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra and some exceeding good solo outings also deserve recognition. Try his Setzer Goes Instru-Mental album to really appreciate his prowess on the guitar and show that the ‘rockabilly’ label only goes so far when describing this skilled musician’s worth. Rockabilly has its roots in the 1950s as country and (proper) r ’n’ b, with added swing we’re combined to form a unique genre that influenced rock ’n’ roll for years to come. I have avoided Brian’s numerous Christmas releases, but even these are really well executed, and (to non-curmudgeonly Scrooges) can be enjoyable too.

Brian has a new album out – called The Devil Always Collects – which ticks all of the Setzer boxes as he brings a blend of rock, Americana, rockabilly, and even punk together with an up-to-date feel. This is best illustrated, paradoxically, by a cover of a 1965 song by country musician Del Reeves: ‘Girl On The Billboard.’ The sound of a Gretsch with reverb takes you back in time, the electric bass plays a storm as it recreates the traditional upright and the whole thing just works well and is irresistible. ‘The Living Dead’ is cinematic, bluesy and delicious… and not a zombie in sight! ‘Black Leather Jacket’ brings accessible rock to the fore with some delightful harmony guitar to great effect. ‘Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)’ isn’t that fast but rather barrels along and is the closest to the Stray Cats here with many, many layers as well as an over-reaching feeling of fun. Closing track ‘One Particular Chick’ could soundtrack a 60s film and will just make you hit replay to try and find out why a hardened rocker can enjoy this album so much… and you will.

There is no heavy rock, grunge or any of the regular sub-genres you’re used to seeing on the pages of RAMzine but Setzer brings the roots of rock up to date with skill and imagination and a few careful listens will draw you in and add another category to your collection.

The Devil Always Collects is out on 15th September 2023.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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Usually, when you hear the name Brian Setzer, the first thought will be of the Stray Cats…which is fair enough but runs the risk of forgetting his other works: the 19-piece Brian Setzer Orchestra and some exceeding good solo outings also deserve recognition. Try...Brian Setzer convinces us that The Devil Always Collects