Lee Rocker is best known as the bassist in the Stray Cats. He’s signed with Alligator, which appears to be expanding its scope with acts outside of blues, and here they’ve made a fine choice. The band features guitarists Brophy Dale and Buzz Campbell, and their considerable talents are put to good use.
Right away, it’s obvious Lee and the boys are serious. The minor-key opening rocker “The Girl From Hell” has a sound that matches its title, with bluesy, soulful guitar and a fine vocal from Lee. From there, it’s a smorgasbord of styles. There’s not a lot of rockabilly, but when it sneaks in, like on “Say When,” it’s done well. Slappin’ bass, cool vocals, and twangy guitar make it a winner. The Rocker original “Funny Car Graveyard” has a cool lyric and scary mood aided by dissonant guitar. Rocker also shows an aptitude for writing excellent country songs on cuts like “The River Runs,” “Texarkana to Panama City,” and “Lost on the Highway.” He even takes on his old bands’ classic “Rock This Town.” It’s very different though, done in a minor-key with both guitarists taking a swing at solos. The album’s last track,”Swing This,” is also its only instrumental. And it delivers. Great stuff.
Dale and Campbell are given ample chance to shine. Dale’s Tele highlights cuts like the remake of “Rock this Town” and “Texarkana to Panama City,” while Campbell plays it a little straighter, but always keeps it interesting. It’s nice to see Alligator sign an act this diverse. Here’s hoping they continue.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’06 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.