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Stray Cats – ’40’ – Review

Released by: Surfdog Records / Mascot Label Group

Release Date: 17th May 2019

Genre: Rock, Rockabilly


Album Line-up:

Brian Setzer – guitar, vocals
Lee Rocker – bass, vocals
Slim Jim Phantom – drums, vocals


1.Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me)
2.Rock It Off
3.I’ve Got Love If You Want It
4.Cry Danger
5.I Attract Trouble
6.Three Time’s A Charm
7.That’s Messed Up
8.When Nothing’s Going Right
10.Mean Pickin’ Mama
11.I’ll Be Looking Out For You
12.Devil Train

My first, smack in the face, memory of the Stray Cats, is of strolling down Sunset Strip, no doubt making my way to the Rainbow Bar & Grill, on a hot summer evening in the very early 1990’s and seeing Brian Setzer looking VERY cool on his motorbike outside the world-famous Sunset Set Trip Tattoo.  My second vivid, but pretty random memory, is of sitting in a Thai jungle in the bungalow of a wonderfully eccentric and totally awesome old friend from Amsterdam, listening to the most obscure and eclectic mix of music I have ever heard.  He had only bought one ipod with him to listen to in Thailand where he lived for many years and one of his specially chosen tracks of choice? ….. ‘Americano’ by the Stray Cats!

But of course as a teenager growing up in the UK, ‘Stray Cat Strut ‘and ‘Rock This Town’ were regularly played on 1980’s radio.  The music genres were an interesting mix in the late 1970’s and 80’s, with a slight leaning in some cases to 50’s nostalgia through bands like The Darts and Kid Creole and the Coconuts, but The Stray Cats were different…they felt a little dangerous….man they looked and sounded great ….I loved them!

Fast forward more years than I like to think about and Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom are returning to celebrate their 40th anniversary this year by launching their new album on May 24th alongside a tour which will be hitting the UK in June……but the question is, can they still cut the retro rockabilly mustard?

A certain amount of trepidation hits me at first …..will the vintage sound of the Cats still make me want to slip on my beetle crushers (I do have a rather fine collection) and start jiving around my kitchen?  The answer is a resounding Yes!

With the foot tapping humour and the infectious groove of old, ‘Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me)’ opens ‘40’ and so begins the rocking beats that continue smoothly through this album. The finger clicking swagger of ‘Rock It Off’ just makes you smile whilst ‘I’ve Got Love If You Want It’ has vocals that Elvis would be proud of.

A smidgeon of the Beatles helps ‘Cry Danger’ bring a tinge of the 60’s to this album …… LOVE THIS TRACK!  ‘I Attract Trouble’ is the perfect beach bar track, a combo of Quentin Tarantino, ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane and sexy dangerous hints of Dick Dale make this the perfect sensual, surf sensation! Simply AWESOME!!!

The old school vibes of ‘Three Time’s A Charm’ and ‘That’s Messed Up’ make it apparent that these guys have not lost their magnificently, mesmerising, melodic meow.  Ooooooooh yeah, and you really have to play ‘When Nothing’s Going Right’ as you ride with metal to the pedal in your brand new hot rod to cool 50’s utopia! A nice instrumental Texan feel to ‘Desperado’ leads us neatly through ‘Mean Pickin’ Mama’ and ‘I’ll Be Looking Out For You’ and finally to the end station of the pumping ‘Devil Train’. 

This is a comeback full of infectious, joyful, foot tapping, finger clicking, red hot, rockabilly grooves,  that show that these Cats are fur-midable when it comes to retro rocking vibes that have a twist of modern meeow! Damn …. Now I need a hotdog and some popcorn too, and just where is the nearest drive in cinema?

Catch the Stray Cats on tour this summer! For more details click here.

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Francijn Suermondt

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

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