In his 2016 book A Stray Cat Struts: My Life as a Rockabilly Rebel, drummer Slim Jim Phantom when speaking of his band the Stray Cats and their loyal fanbase, boldly declares “We will outlive many, many bands that sold more albums than we did ”, a statement which is gloriously borne out on the band’s latest release, a live album titled Rocked This Town: From LA to London on Surfdog Records.
A career-spanning retrospective recorded during the band’s critically acclaimed fortieth-anniversary tour in 2019, the record showcases how the three funny dressed musical kids from Long Island, who formed a band that openly celebrated and emulated the music of early rock and roll, have not only survived like Phantom said they would but have in fact thrived and evolved into one of America’s most essential rock and roll bands.
From the sizzling opener “Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me)” to their spirited classics “I Won’t Stand In Your Way” and “Rock This Town” to the bruising closer ‘Rumble in Brighton,” the trio displays, on the 20 plus songs on this album, how through their talent and resolve, they themselves have become a great band of the rockabilly genre deserving of their own musical reverence and respect.
Forty-plus years after they were dismissed early on by some critics as a novelty act or a glorified covers band, this trio of Brian Setzer on guitar, Lee Rocker on upright bass, and the aforementioned Slim Jim Phantom on drums show that they still flat out rock with a level of passion and virtuosity that a lot of bands only dream of being able to reach or achieve.
Having been a lifelong lover and defender of the Cats since I heard the aforementioned “Rock This Town” shake up the staid and formulaic airwaves of the early 1980s, I take great joy in the fact that this band is still going strong some four decades later and hope that this through this new release, they will possibly garner themselves and the rockabilly genre additional fans that they both so richly deserve.
Rocked This Town: From LA To London by the Stray Cats was produced by Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker, and Slim Jim Phantom and is now available on the band’s website .