Album Review: Brian Setzer, Rockabilly Riot: All Original

Written by Allison Lips

Photo Courtesy: MSO PR
Photo Courtesy: MSO PR

Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot!: All Original will appeal to dads and rockabilly fans; the latter will make up the majority of people who buy the album. On All Original (Setzer has a previous record called Rockabilly Riot), Setzer returns to his roots. Most of the record could have been released with the Stray Cats.

Rockabilly Riot!: All Original kicks the party off with “Let’s Shake.” The song could be considered a modern day counterpart to the Stray Cats’ “Rock This Town,” which makes it accessible to non-rockabilly fans. Does it really matter what genre a song is when all it does is make you want to dance?brian-setzer-rockabilly-riot

After “Let’s Shake,” All Original bounces back and forth between punk influenced rockabilly and rockabilly that overdoses on the country. The two songs with the most punk influence are “Nothing is a Sure Thing” and “Stiletto Cool.” The former should be a single and will be covered by a thousand pyschobilly bands regardless. On the latter, Setzer occasionally drops his rockabilly twang for rougher punk-esque vocals, but never loses his swagger.

When Setzer ventures too far into country, things get a little weird. “I Shoulda Had a V-8,” which will be played at classic car shows around the country and not in a tomato juice commercial, sounds like something Woody Guthrie would have written. “What’s Her Name” and “Calamity Jane” attempt to skirt the boarder between rock and country, yet end up south of the Mason-Dixon line anyway. It’s amusing. Setzer’s crazy in a good way. You either get it or will be left scratching your head.

Like many Setzer albums, All Original ends with a song that makes you wonder what he was thinking. This time that honor goes to “Cock-a-doodle Don’t,” a song so absurd, only Setzer can get away with singing it somewhat seriously because he likes to cut through the rockabilly scene’s pretentiousness.

Once again, Setzer has produced an album that’s fun and full of good music. The man’s not out to prove himself. It’s common knowledge that music critics consider Setzer one of the best guitarists ever. He doesn’t let that go to his head. As usual, Setzer’s album is all about the music, not his ego.

Anglophile, Rockabilly, Pompadour lover, TV and Music Critic