Review Summary: It may not be the most experimental album of all time, but the Stray Cats show you how to rock like its 1959 all over again in the space of half an hour.
Stray Cats - Rant 'N' Rave (1983)
Brian Setzer - Guitar, Vocals
Lee Rocker - Upright Bass, Backing Vocals
Slim Jim Phantom - Drums, Backing Vocals
The Stray Cats are a band that are loved by many, but also not known at all by many, especially nowadays which is quite sad because underneath the almost too cheesy album cover lays some brilliant musicianship and undeniably catchy tunes. This release was their last album before they broke up to pursue other projects. The band has since reformed many times and still tours today playing classic songs from all 3 (yep, count them) of their albums. The band is known for their slightly punked up brand of rockabilly and whilst this isn't as raw as their first album, it is still a very fun album even if it does slightly lean towards more of a traditional rockabilly style.
At only 10 tracks the album does not overstay its welcome, which definitely adds to the overall solid feel of the album, however I personally believe two or three more songs wouldn't hurt the flow at all. With that out of the way, it's worth saying that every single song on here is classic. Each and every song is catchy in its own unique way and surprisingly they lose none of its appeal after repeated listening. Everywhere you turn, one of Setzer's Guitar licks will catch your ear and the drums and bass are sure to keep your foot tapping for the duration of the record.
'Rebels Rules' starts with an engine starting up and quickly moves into some catchy drums before some bass and guitar joins in. The lyrics are nothing amazing, but this music never needed thought provoking lyrics. The words are sung well and are bound to get stuck in your head for days. The song bops along with it's very teenage lyrics and moves into the sing-along chorus complete with background "heys!". The song then moves into one of its strongest tracks 'Too Hip, Gotta Go!". If the chorus from this song doesn't get stuck in your head, then I don't know what will. Again the chorus is complete with a shout out chorus thanks to the backing vocals and the foot tapping guitar solo in the middle breaks up the song nicely.
"I won't stand in your way" is the song that definitely breaks of the album. All the songs have a similar formula which may seem to wear thin on the casual listener however this song definitely breaks the album up nicely and is critical the overall flow of the album. Many people won't like this song, and I’ll admit it had to grow on me. Many fans hold this as there favourite song by the band so it definitely has a following. The song itself is very, very mellow and has an incredible 50's swing feel to it, complete with "Doo wop!" backing vocals and light chord strumming and drumming. The song is extremely vintage sounding and so props to the band for having the balls to write something like this in 1983. As mentioned above I feel its main quality is breaking up the album and giving the listener some chill out time.
"Hotrod Gang" sounds like an Elvis song and instantly gets you back on your feet again! Not much can be said about this song than it is classic Stray Cats and has some nice guitar and vocal response verses. "How Long you wanna live" Is one of the strongest tracks and allows the album to go with a bang! It begins with Setzer yelling "Alright Cats! a 1 a 2 a 1 2 3 4!" before a punk type riff blasts out and some drum rolls get the song going. The lyrics are typical teenage rebellion lyrics but they fit the music perfectly and gives the song a great edge. The song has everything Stray Cat signature, from the yells before the brilliant solo; from the marching drum beats and the catchy chorus this song shows you why they are such a fun band.
With every song sounding as good as they do, "Rant 'n' Rave" is an album that sadly seems to have been forgotten. You won't find it in any top 100 classic albums, or influential albums but if you your a guitarist or just a lover of plain and simple rock 'n' roll then you owe yourself a listen to this forgotten slab of rockabilly rock. Sure, it's not for everyone, but no single album is for everyone, but if you keep and open mind and take the album for what it is, then hopefully you will enjoy the album as much as I have.
Too Hip, Gotta Go
(She's) Sexy and 17
How Long You Wanna Live, Anyway?