Brian Setzer is an amazing guitar player who has always played what he wanted, whether it was popular or not – from rockabilly to big-band. But some fans have wanted one album that offered a mixture of his talents. This is it.
13 (named for the number of songs on the record) covers a range of styles, including chunky rock on “Drugs & Alcohol (Bullet Holes)” fueled by a repeated lick while fingerpicked rockabilly chords cover the rest of the ground. The solo is big and as rock and roll as you could ask. If you’ve ever questioned Setzer’s chops, put on “Take a Chance on Love.” It’s an excuse to play guitar. “Back Streets of Tokyo” is a rocker with big riffs and licks with a metal-esque flair (I swear there’s a bit of “Cat Scratch Fever” in there!). “When a Hepcat Gets the Blues” is a swinger that lets Setzer display his jazz skills, and the solo is amazing. And speaking of swing, the instrumental “Mini Bar Blues” has gorgeous solos and harmonized guitars all over the place. Country bends and pinched notes on “Don’t Say You Love Me” combine with Brian’s vocals, and the vocals are as excellent as you’d expect. Whether it’s a full-tilt rocker or the very cool folk and banjo of “The Hennepin Avenue Bridge,” he’s right on the money.
Lyrically, pretty much everything works. Listen for his jab at pretenders on “Really Rockabilly.” Very funny stuff set to playing that would make Carl Perkins smile. Cuts like “Everybody’s Up To Something” and “Broken Down Piece of Junk” also show off his clever side.
It’s nice to hear Setzer cut loose like this after so many thematic albums.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.