Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Stray Cats

Artist:Stray Cats
Song:Rock This Town
Album:Greatest Hits

The Stray Cats rode the 80s Rockabilly revival to three top ten hits including Rock This Town in 1982. Their run was brief as they split up in 1985. But the music holds up well and all three guys have had successful music careers. The Stray Cats are from Massapequa, Long Island, NY. In 1978, lead singer, guitarist and main songwriter Brian Setzer had a band called The Tom Cats which included his brother Gary on drums. He abandoned that to form the Stray Cats with bassist Lee Rocker (real name: Lee Drucker) and drummer Slim Jim Phantom (real name: James McDonnell). They were friends in high school. It was agreed that Stray Cats would be a Rockabilly tribute band. But they would write original songs. They got some buzz playing New York clubs but couldn't get a record deal. So they moved to England in 1980 because they thought Rockabilly would be more acceptable there and it would be easier to get a record deal. That's exactly what happened and Arista won a bidding war. This was only in England. They got a stroke of good luck when they met Dave Edminds after a show and he agreed to produce them. Not only is Edmunds a great guitarist best known as part of Rockpile. But as a producer, Edmunds has great respect for 50s music with the ability to give Stray Cats a contemporary sound. It's exactly what Stray Cats needed. After three hit singles in England including Rock This Town, Stray Cats signed a US record deal with EMI America. The 1982 album Built For Speed was a comp of their first two albums. Rock This Town reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was written by Setzer and Edmunds. Stray Cat Strut was an even bigger hit at #3 and (She's) Sexy + 17 was also a top ten hit. By 1984, the group wasn't getting along and split up. It appears the problem was Setzer's gig as guitarist for Robert Plant. Phantom and Rocker formed a new band with former David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick called Phantom Rocker & Slick and they recorded one album. Stray Cats reunited in the late 80s and recorded three albums that weren't successful. They continue to reunite occasionally. This 2005 comp from Capitol has all the Stray Cats hits. The Brian Setzer Orchestra had success in the 90s and he tours with that band too. Lee Rocker has recorded blues for Black Top and Alligator and runs a music festival in Texas. Slim Jim Phantom played with Jerry Lee Lewis. His current bands are Dead Men Walking and The Head Cat. Here's the video for Rock This Town by Stray Cats.

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