Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Born at the tail end of the decade he’s so in thrall with, Brian Setzer has always brought the feel of 1950’s to adrenaline-fuelled life.
His mastery of not just the music itself but a real authenticity that’s matched with a consummate skill as a performer has seen him acknowledged as one of the finest artists and guitarists around.
With his blonde quiff and hip shaking style, he’s brought some of the early, visceral thrill and rebellion of rock ‘n’ roll to countless thousands both as a solo artist and as part of the legendary Stray Cats. Whilst some superstitious types may shy away from the number, solo album thirteen ‘The Devil Always Collects’ is as fine as anything he’s done and adds some great colours and twists to the formula.
Certainly, it opens in traditional style, the rockabilly wail of ‘Rock Boys Rock’ kicks like a mule, the double bass, drums and smoking hot guitar designed to get feet moving as the female backing vocals cry “plug it in the box and show me what you’ve got” in a suitably double entendre manner.
Following that, the title track is a slab of rockin’ Gothic that would go down a storm at an Addams Family party, Wednesday frugging and throwing shapes to its perfect curves.
Amongst the mayhem, ‘Girl On The Billboard’ is an evocative slice of shimmering Midwestern longing, beautifully capturing a mood, time and place without ever dipping into the saccharine and the ‘The Living Dead’ takes us back to the Addams mansion as its Halloween vibes swing and sway.
There’s a lot to unpack here, the album a kaleidoscope of different hues as the spookiness gives way to the 70’s rock of ‘Black Leather Jacket’ in a move that’s unexpected and out of the box but fits nicely. Similarly, ‘She’s Got A Lotta – Soul’ is full of big balls and heart, the light and shade of the instrumentation and layers of backing vocals an intoxicating blend.
With the run of playful and upbeat bangers including ‘Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)’ and ‘Psycho Suzie’ leading up to the big finish of ‘One Particular Chick’, the album barely pauses for breath in its race for the finish line.
What Setzer has created here is something lithe, elegant and yet full of a blazing fire that is timeless, the tradition shot through with a vital modernity. The King of the Rumble, the world’s a better place due to this stray cat and ‘The Devil Always Collects’ is an album that will see Summer last long into those cold Winter months to come. Still rockin’ in mighty fine style.
Here’s the track listing for THE DEVIL ALWAYS COLLECTS:
1 Rock Boys Rock
2. The Devil Always Collects
3. Girl On The Billboard
4. The Living Dead
5. What’ll It Be Baby Doll?
6. Black Leather Jacket
7. She’s Got A Lotta…Soul!
8. Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)
9. A Dude’ll Do (What a Dude’ll Do)
10. Psycho Suzie
11. One Particular Chick