Brian Setzer – The Knife Feels Like Justice

The Knife Feels Like Justice

I was extremely happy to see this on CD. I loved this album when it came out in ’86, and it still sounds wonderful. I guess you’d call this post-Cats/pre-swing Brian. Musically, it really doesn’t relate much to either.

I guess in this day and age, this is “Americana. ” It’s produced by Don Gehman, best known for his work with John Mellencamp, and I that’s a fair comparison – but not really. The lyrics fit very much into that mold. It could have come off the pen of a Mellencamp or Springsteen. Musically it fits too, except for one thing. As would be expected, the guitar playing is hot as hell. You don’t find solos like this on albums by the other guys of this genre.

The title cut should have been a hit – a killer hook, killer vocals, great guitar playing, and very cool lyrics. It was released as a single, but stiffed. I guess there were lots of English synth-pop bands on the charts at the time.

There are lots of other cool cuts here, too. Check out the hypersonic country-boogie of “Haunted River,” or the monster guitar work on “Radiation Ranch.” The proceedings end with “Barbwire Fence,” with its amazing lyric and one-guitar solo with killer bends and open-string pulloffs that rattle the walls. It’s a good way to wrap things up. If you’re a fan of his vocals or playing, check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

This review originally appeared in VG‘s March ’99 issue.

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