Great Rock Albums of 1983: Stray Cats- Built For Speed
Internet didn’t exist back in 1983 and that is going to be my excuse for posting an album that came out in the middle of 1982 in 1983. A quick historical point here, it was the early 1980s when computer technology was becoming accessible to the common masses. I did do an introductory course in computers during my first semester at college in the Autumn of this year but that’s not important here. What is was the fact that back then, I had to rely on record stores, radio, word of mouth and a late night television show called “Video Rock” to learn about new music. Our house didn’t even get MTV until the December of this year! It was the mentioned television show where I first learned about the Stray Cats in the summer of 1983.
It was their 1950s look and sound that first got my attention. At a time where everyone was trying to be different, the Stray Cats actually were. While I wasn’t very impressed with the first single I heard, “Stray Cats Strut,” I did like the second one that reached my ears, “Rock This Town.” Even though, like most people, I got the impression they were in love with the fifties, I thought they were at least trying to be original at the time. Besides, with “Rock This Town,” they proved to me they were good musicians. Brian Setzer was a competent guitarist, (no Van Halen or Nugent but competent) and Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker work very well together as a rhythm section, a point I will certainly expand on when I get to 1985.
The Stray Cats’ album “Built For Speed,” pretty much sounds like the two songs I’ve already mentioned. They are firmly locked in the 1950s rockabilly sound reminiscent of Eddie Cochran or Bill Haley and the Comets, not a bad thing. Each song, with the exception of the slower “Lonely Summer Nights” possesses a catchy sound that draws you in. It might not get you to start fist pumping and banging your head but I did find myself wanting to snap my fingers along with them, which is saying something for someone with no natural rhythm. Apart from “Rock This Town,” the other songs which stand out for me are “Little Miss Prissy,” “Rumble in Brighton” and “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie.” All contain a strong dose of the elements that turned my ear to the Stray Cats in the first place. Not only was it something different at the time, what was different was done very well.
- Rock This Town
- Built for Speed
- Rev It Up & Go
- Stray Cats Strut
- Little Miss Prissy
- Rumble in Brighton
- Runaway Boys
- Lonely Summer Nights
- Double Talkin’ Baby
- You Don’t Believe Me
- Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie
- Baby Blue Eyes
Brian Setzer- vocals, guitar
Slim Jim Phantom- drums, percussion, vocals
Lee Rocker- double bass, bass, vocals
Outside of this album, I have little experience of the Stray Cats. For me, their 1950s persona would only last for the one album. Their next album would pretty much escape my notice and in the years following, it would be their post break up projects that I would be more into. Saying all this, however, doesn’t stop “Built For Speed” from being a pretty good album.
Next post: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion
To Buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html
Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London