Friday, June 6, 2014


Another artist I found myself revisiting as I upload my collection to the cloud is Brian Setzer, who got his start with the Stray Cats, achieving fame with hits like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut.” 

More recently, the Brian Setzer Orchestra has released a handful of swing/big band albums.

In between Setzer issued a couple of solo albums, the first of which, The Knife Feels Like Justice, was released in 1987.

The lead single was the title track, and it was freakin’ awesome! 

The album only hinted at the Cats’ rockabilly leanings, which was for me a refreshing change. 

I remember hearing this song on the radio for the first time and starting to anticipate the record release.

I was still buying vinyl in those days.

Needless to day, side one got a little more wear because of that song.

Another song that really resonated with me at the time, "Chains Around Your Heart," could have come off of a Springsteen album. 

Since that musical style was in heavy rotation for me back then, it only made me love the album more.

Another song I loved back in the day was "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams."  Revisiting this disc brought back a lot of memories, and it's one I need to break out more often.

The follow-up album was Live Nude Guitars, which contrary to the title, had no nude instruments of any kind-they were very chaste guitars, of the highest moral fortitude.

This album was more of a return to the rockabilly sound Setzer was known for, so while I did not (and still do not) like it as much as his solo debut, it was still a criminally overlooked release.

Setzer is having fun on this album, and his guitar licks are as good as on any of his albums.

"Nervous Breakdown" sounds like Brian is getting his George Thorogood on....

Sadly, both albums are out of print. You can pay through the nose on Amazon or eBay, or start scouring the bins of your local used store (I found both of my Japanese copies at Zia Records, and they have locations in Las Vegas...just in case you want to plan a vacation and a CD scrounging trip in one...)

Or, if you are so inclined, here is a clip of the entire album The Knife Feels Like Justice.

And here is the entire Live Nude Guitars album.

They are both worth listening to all the way through if you have the time.

Some reissue label may want to think about releasing these....


  1. Those first couple songs have a Country feel to them.

    And that's a good version of 'Nervous Breakdown'! I have it by Eddie Cochran and I'll bet that's who Brian Setzer got it from too, because Setzer has always had that 'Eddie Cochran' look about him - the whole 1950s Rockabilly persona going on.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Here we do not have to debate (unlike our Tiny Tim/Leon Redbone debate a few years back)-there is no doubt in my mind Setzer was invoking Eddie Cochran from the start!

      Even the hair-do, right?

      But he did it well.

      Interesting though-I never really thought "country" on those first few, but I do make the comment one could have come off of a Springsteen album...and the intro to "Knife" definitely has roots in a couple of earlier classic tunes...

      But I have a post coming up that makes the point that a little bit of guitar tuning is really the difference between country (well, country worth listening to), and rock.

      In that post I say "Lynyrd Skynyrd," but I could make the same argument for Springsteen.

      It would only take a nudge and some twang to send him to the red side of the neck...

      In fact (this is not a joke) I'd read that Bruce had recorded a country album back in the 90's and has been sitting on it.

      Don't know if you read my comments on "Your Daily Dose," but even Bruce is guilty of my #1 country turn off...when he does his solo acoustic shows, all of a sudden he's talking like Woody Guthrie.

      He's from, friggin' Jersey! He needs to act like it!

      I can just hear him doing his y'alls if he ever releases that country disc.

      -A Pennsylvania Yankee Until Death

      (even though, based on today's high temperature, I already live in one of the circles of Hell)

  2. LC ~
    Well, from the very beginning (i.e., The Stray Cats) it was clear that ‘Setzer And Company’ were borrowing their entire shtick from the early (1950s) Rockabilly scene (which is one reason I liked The Stray Cats the very first time I heard them and I rushed out to buy their first album).

    But I had always just thought of Setzer as sort of an amalgamation of all them cats - Elvis, Cochran, Gene Vincent, etc. - but now, with that cover of 'Nervous Breakdown', for the first time I'm thinking that maybe Cochran was Setzer's favorite. (He was definitely MY favorite. I wore a black and white Eddie Cochran pin on my leather jacket for years. Later replaced by a wolf pin, which was eventually and permanently replaced by the black and white James Dean pin that my buddy Marty handmade for me.)

    I still own a really good Eddie Cochran compilation CD that I play fairly regularly. And that's one more CD than I own by Elvis or Vincent, etc.

    I'll tell ya, there's a fine line that divides Lynyrd Skynyrd from George Thorogood, and there's an even finer line that divides Thorogood from Hank "Bocephus" Williams Jr. And the line that divides "Bocephus" from Waylon is barely even discernible.

    >>... Don't know if you read my comments on "Your Daily Dose," but even Bruce is guilty of my #1 country turn off...when he does his solo acoustic shows, all of a sudden he's talking like Woody Guthrie.

    Well, that’s pretty interesting because...

    You know as well as I do that when Springsteen recorded his first album ‘GREETINGS...’ he was consciously doing the ‘BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME’ / ‘HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED’ Bob Dylan. It was so obvious that several music journalists took to calling him “the next Bob Dylan”.

    But when we get to ‘NEBRASKA’, suddenly he’s doing Bob Dylan doing Woody Guthrie.

    Now, here’s my #1 pet peeve about Bob Dylan doing Woody Guthrie...

    In the well-known song ‘DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALRIGHT’, Dylan sings the following lyrics:

    “And It ain't no use in turning on your light, babe
    The light I never knowed...”

    Every time I hear that it bugs me to distraction! Dylan wasn’t some in-bred redneck from the backwoods – hell, he’d even attended some college classes. By no stretch of ANYONE’S imagination is it believable that Dylan really didn’t know the word should have been “knew”, NOT “knowed”.

    Dylan was laying the “Country Bumpkin” shtick on thick... because he wanted to sound like his idol, Woody. And that really irritates me to hear an intelligent guy deliberately dumbing himself down to seem “Folky”.

    So... I really don’t want to hear Springsteen dumbing himself down to sound like Bob Dylan dumbing himself down to sound like Woody Guthrie... who was dumb.

    >>... He's from, friggin' Jersey! He needs to act like it!

    I think we part company there.
    Do we really want someone from “The Armpit Of America” acting like it?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    1. Wow...a Jersey hater!

      I was not even thinking of the dumbing down so much as the putting on the accent...I can actually forgive Dylan because I'm thinking the next line ended with "road" and he needed the rhyme.

      But just like I find it ridiculous that the seventy-something rock stars still try to look like their twenty-something selves (yes, you too, Todd R!), I find it laughable that an artist all of a sudden takes on the mannerisms of a southerner just because they recorded songs in that genre.

      You wanna wear the hat and boots? Fine. But unless you lived your life south of the Mason-Dixon line (and above the Florida Keys to keep South American country wannabees honest), enough with the fake southern accent.

      To paraphrase Mr. Petty-there is no southern accent where I come from-and I come from the same neck of the woods as most of these posers!

      And dude....if Jersey is America's armpit, that's only one pit...there's got to be two, right?

      It would only make sense that the other one would be on the west side of the country...say the Los Angeles area...

  3. LC ~
    Go to Google, type in "ARMPIT OF AMERICA" and see what comes up on the first page of results. (Jersey ain't Philly, so no need to defend it.)

    >>... I can actually forgive Dylan because I'm thinking the next line ended with "road" and he needed the rhyme.

    Ha!-Ha! Oh, and it was just far too late to change the word "road" to something else? The problem was... Dylan just didn't "know what the facts is".

    I'll agree with there being a West side armpit of America, too. But that would OBVIOUSLY be San FranCRISCO.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. While San Fran may be many things, I actually would not call it an armpit...probably Oakland..

      The Google search is pretty funny. I lived in South Jersey for years, and aside from it basically being a Philly suburb had no complaints.

      But up near NYC it is somewhat less visually appealing (yet probably more expensive than Southern California-go figure).

      And I always found it interesting that the Statue of Liberty was facing the other way...

      As for Dylan, well my friend, "it ain't no use to sit and wonder don't matter anyhow."


  4. I was thinking of 'CRISCO more from a foul-smelling immoral sense than an aesthetic one. It's actually a small, picturesque city.

    Yeah, I could see it being Oakland. The only problem is that it was once famously said of Oakland that there's "no There there". So can a place that has no There really be an armpit of America? This is turning into a rather deep philosophical discussion about armpits.

    I've been through that area of New Jersey that you mentioned (e.g., Newark) and, yeah, it's pretty nasty.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Yeah, "Frisco is beautiful...but if you drop your wallet, you better kick it to Oakland before you bend over to pick it up...

      Oh my...I think that quip may constitute a hate crime.