Great Rock Albums of 1985: Brian Setzer- The Knife Feels Like Justice


I don’t give two sh*ts what Wikipedia says, I remember hearing Brian Setzer on the radio in late 1985. Wikipedia states that Brian’s first solo album, “The Knife Feels Like Justice” came out in 1986. Maybe that was when it was officially released but as far as I’m concerned, the album came out in 1985. Besides, Wikipedia has gotten it wrong in the past. Now that that’s cleared up, on with the post.

Try as hard as I might, I can help making comparisons and contrasts between this album and the Phantom, Rocker and Slick album from the previous post. After all, the except for Earl Slick, the other members were all in the Stray Cats together. There was much comparison and contrast between the artists back then and I guess I’m continuing it now. Therefore, if you were to ask me which album I liked better, I have to say that Phantom, Rocker and Slick is the clear winner. That’s my personal choice and Brian Setzer’s “The Knife Feels Like Justice” album is still a pretty good album.

The first clear apparent from the album is that Brian sticks more to what he did when he was in the Stray Cats. The 1950s doo-wop sound that the Stray Cats made famous in 1983 comes through in all of the songs. This is especially the case with the track “Bobby’s Back.” Listening to that song makes me want to put on a wool letterman’s sweater, (cardigan for my British readers), find a lady in a knit dress and jitter bug away with her. It’s more or less the same with the first four tracks. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” sounds like a love ballad from that decade but I do like the intros on the first two tracks. Both pull me into the song.

For the second half of the album, Brian steers a little away from the 50’s sound. “Radiation Ranch” begins the departure and probably features Brian’s best guitar solo on the album. The intro on “Chains Around Your Heart” would sit well with a heavy metal tune and has a cool guitar solo. Since I can’t remember which song from the album I heard on the radio back in 1985 and there is no evidence produced as to which song(s) were released as a single, it gets my vote for not just the hidden gem but best song on the album. “Three Guys” is pretty good as well and “Aztec” sounds almost 1980s and with a rockabilly closer like “Barbwire Fence” it is easy to say why this is still a good album.

Track Listing

  1. The Knife Feels Like Justice
  2. Haunted River
  3. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  4. Bobby’s Back
  5. Radiation Ranch
  6. Chains Around Your Heart
  7. Maria
  8. Three Guys
  9. Aztec
  10. Breath of Life
  11. Barbwire Fence


Brian Setzer

Brian Setzer- lead vocals, lead guitar

Tommy Byrnes- guitar, backing vocals

Chuck Leavell- keyboards

Kenny Aaronson- bass

Kenny Aronoff- drums, percussion

Steve Jordan- drums (track 4)

Benmont Tench- organ (track 4)

Mike Campbell- 12 string guitar (track 9)

Paggi Blu- vocals (tracks 3, 8 &10)

Queen Esther Marrow- vocals (tracks 3, 8 & 10)

Diva Grey- vocals (tracks 3, 8 & 10)

Dave and Andrew Williams- vocals (tracks 2, 4 & 6)

Yvonne Zuaro- vocals (tracks 1, 7, 9 and 11)

I might have thought that Phantom, Rocker and Slick had the better album but the record label might have thought otherwise. They did promote this album quite a lot and it did make it to 45 in the charts. There is a lot to like on “The Knife Feels Like Justice.”

Next post: Pete Townshend- White City: A Novel

To download Rock and Roll Children, go to:

8 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1985: Brian Setzer- The Knife Feels Like Justice”

  1. Know what I love most about these bands… the hair. Boy they knew how to do hair back then ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Brian but I know nothing off this album!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Never explored this one, but that is one helluva great list of players on there!

    Liked by 1 person

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