Setzer's Career in Five Songs

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by drmilktruck, Dec 8, 2020.

  1. PDMan

    PDMan Electromatic

    Dec 26, 2016
    Nashville, TN
    I think the BSO version of Nutcracker Suite is clever as all get out.
  2. Stratiner

    Stratiner Electromatic

    I gotta agree on that one! May not be one of his "defining" songs in his own definition, but definitely a great arrangement.
  3. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    It's not a pure Setzer track, since it's co-written by the late great Joe Strummer, but I always thought "Ghost Radio" off of Guitarslinger was the perfect track to introduce someone into why the BSO was such a breath of fresh air in the mid 90s. It's catchy, it's rootsy, it rocks, it's got great horn parts, it's retro without being cheesy.

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  4. Echocat23

    Echocat23 Gretschie

    Jan 4, 2018
    Kansas City
    That album changed my life. Everything on that album is amazing. Everything.
  5. Shock

    Shock Gretschie

    Sep 7, 2020

    I would have to throw Gene and Eddie on the list. My opinion is this song was instrumental in making the clear bridge from traditional to the new wave. Coincidentally the same wave that would bring back Gretsch from the grave. Made the kids ask, "So who was Gene and Eddie?" Since Gene and Eddie is mostly Summertime Blues (and a dozen and and a half other songs), give it an honorable mention here. Here are the rest in random order.

    Stray Cat Strut of course.
    Rock This Town.
    I Won't Stand In Your Way.
    Runaway Boys/Rumble in Brighton tie for the last place.
  6. Merc

    Merc Friend of Fred

    May 6, 2017
    Gene and Eddie is a great fun song that pays tribute perfectly to both artist. But by playing riffs written from other players pieced together, I wouldn’t say that’s a defining song of his own career. Of course any song that is suggested is likely acceptable since this is all opinion based. I do feel as though it should not be a cover of any sort for the OG question and Brian’s talent. And it should consist from his entire career and not simply the Strat Cats era. His catalog of great songs is so impressive it’s a difficult task.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2020
  7. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    He’d probably give a different answer tomorrow.
    Merc likes this.
  8. amp360

    amp360 Synchromatic

    Oct 21, 2012
    I loved the Stray Cats when I first got serious about playing guitar in maybe 1987/88. They were a little past at that time but I bought all their records even the Japanese imports. First record I bought was a gonna ball then I bought knife feels like justice and then live nude guitars when it came out.

    Setzer is a good player but I have never been able to get into his new stuff. I’m glad he’s gotten so popular but I’ve been disappointed with everything I’ve bought since choo choo hot fish.

    I think Knife Feels Like Justice and Rock Therapy (which Earl Slick plays some guitar on) hold up the best.

    Also, the first Phantom Rocker and Slick record is out on cd now. Hopefully Cover Girl will come out someday.
  9. Taco Cat

    Taco Cat Electromatic

    Oct 30, 2020
    Likewise - that album was my intro to Brian back in highschool. I was playing trumpet in the jazz band, and the director suggested we go out and listen to some big band albums. I did one of those 12 CDs for a penny things, and ordered a bunch of music. Included Guitar Slinger in with Benny Goodman and the like because to high-school me, "Brian Setzer Orchestra" seemed like it would fit in, based on the word orchestra alone. That album rocked, still does, and it's one of my favs. I still use "Ghostradio" as a handle in online games to this day.
  10. BarryMClark

    BarryMClark Country Gent

    Apr 4, 2011
    I have two looks at this. One is as a guitarist and another is just as someone that likes music regardless of how technically interesting or simple it is.

    As a musician, pretty much anything he has can be dizzying especially as you get further and further into his career. My favorite thing he does is BSO in that regard. However, on the other hand, there is the music that made me want to play guitar and he was absolutely in the top 5 there. Hearing Stray Cat Strut when I was about 6 or whenever it was MTV came on the air for the time somehow spoke to my super young ears. The other guitarists were Chuck Berry, Marty McFly, Roy Clark, and, don't judge me, Emmet Otter. lol. I was a kid. What do you want? At least 3 of them are real people. About as good as you can hope for from a 6 year old. hahaha
    Merc likes this.
  11. Merc

    Merc Friend of Fred

    May 6, 2017
    The Stray Cats are obviously legendary and influencing material for so many. I’m glad it had that affect on you as well.

    Don’t read this question the wrong way, but have you given Setzer’s later albums play time years after your initial dislike? I only ask as I’ll admit there are times I’ve listened to albums by various artists and thought they were garbage. Only to listen to them years later and love them. I think for me it was just the release time in my life not matching what mood or music I was into.
  12. amp360

    amp360 Synchromatic

    Oct 21, 2012
    Yeah, to me (and this is probably going to get people mad even though it's not meant to be) it's just kind of a less good version of what the Stray Cats did. I bought the 68 Comeback Special record and was really disappointed with it and I've picked up a couple others in the used section and it just seems like a lot of regurgitated riffs and silly lyrics.

    Like I said, I have a huge collection of Stray Cats/Phantom Rocker & Slick/Setzer solo albums and I would never get rid of them because they were a huge part of my youth. When my friends were listening to Warrant I was listening to Stray Cats and the like. I used to scour used record stores to even find those record in the 1980s. I remember looking for the first Stray Cats record forever and finally finding a Japanese import and then finding the Japanese Gonna Ball, which has some different tracks on it. I even remember staying up late one night in maybe 1988 to tape a one off live concert WBCN broadcast of the Stray Cats live in studio. I still have that cassette somewhere.

    When Setzer got his second wave of popularity I just disliked most of what he did. I saw BSO a few times, I think the last time was 4th of July '93 or '94. Great show. I saw the Stray Cats on the Blast Off (I think) tour in Boston at the old City on Lansdowne. I was like 14 or something but somehow got in. I saw Setzer on the LNG tour with George Thorogood (and even have the Setzer/Thorogood promo thing on LP). All great.

    I just really get tired of Setzer's style. When I was young it really did it for me, as I've gotten older not so much. He's a great player and was a HUGE influence on me as a kid. I always think I have to pull those records out again but I never do.

    The goofiest thing to me is a lot (not all) of the people who will argue with me are the same people who either weren't playing back then or were the same people in middle school that told me that Poison or Bang Tango were better bands but now have become "bloozemen" or "rockabilly cats".
  13. Merc

    Merc Friend of Fred

    May 6, 2017
    No worries, I don’t really see anyone here on this forum getting mad for a simple opinion.

    Setzer definitely has his signature sound. But that’s what makes him Setzer and that’s what people expect to hear. Strange though, I view the 68 CBS as completely different and original from the Strat Cats material. So I guess we’ll likely agree to disagree on that one. It doesn’t really matter much as long as I enjoy it. We all have our favorites.
    amp360 likes this.
  14. amp360

    amp360 Synchromatic

    Oct 21, 2012
    True. Like I said, to me I think The Knife Feels Like Justice is probably the one that holds up the best. To each their own.
    Merc likes this.
  15. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    Sandy Eggo
    Storm the Embassy, it tells on them when they were sick and tired of the break out hit. It shows they didnt want to lose their post punk sneer and Brian was and is a secret shredder.

    Jade Idol.. its the darkened closing curtain on the cats as a band, and its the front door of Brian's new path

    Blvd of Broken Dreams.. The new chapter in full effect, a new band and a desire to experiment with pop standards. Dated as hell now but sentimental and dreamy

    BUZZ BUZZ from Guitar Slinger - Brian has evolved and is now self realized. The Orchestra is a reality, the pop schtick is shed like an old snake skin and the new Cat rises to toward the brass ring w whiskey on his breath

    Hollywood Nocturne from Dirty Boogie - Brian may have jumped on the bandwagon of the time (cocktail nation and swing revival) but he'd been ready since he was a kid. He WAS a jazz musician by design. Grammies were the reward. The King of Neo Rockabilly lives.

    - 68 comeback special - Brian's alcohol addiction is catching up with him, and pending divorce sends him toward his darker side. He gets covered in tattoos, spends a ton of money on hotrods and goes
    way back to his roots. He awakens the Straycat fans that werent ever happy with his evolution. BUT... he spins out of control and the crash sends Rich Modica his transformation gearman behind the scene, splits as does Mark his bassist and not too far in the near future, does Bernie his drummer and the BSO and Xmas Xtravaganza is never the same.
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  16. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Jade Idol is a total deep cut. I wore out my cassette copy of Choo Choo Hot Fish just listening to that track. But I was also a weird punk rock kid who was also really into Martin Denny, so YMMV.
    TV the Wired Turtle and Taco Cat like this.
  17. Frisco Kid

    Frisco Kid Electromatic

    Aug 6, 2010
    I agree, I also think Live Nude Guitars has aged well.
    amp360 likes this.
  18. amp360

    amp360 Synchromatic

    Oct 21, 2012
    That was the first Setzer record I bought. I remember there being a 1/4 page ad in Rolling Stone and saving up for it. Great record all around.

    Today I had to do about an hour dive so I put the 68 Comeback Special record in thinking I would listen to it beginning to end.

    I have to say, I couldn't do it. Most of the songs just seemed like vehicles for guitar solos that were well played but really didn't serve the song, something I think Setzer was so good at in the early days. There was a knockoff of a Dave Dudley song with terrible lyrics and a version of Hot Rod Gang from Rant and Rave (great song/great record) but it was just lame. You would think he just would have redone the old song or at least done something a little more interesting than quoting HRG and Baby Blue Eyes (another great tune) in the solo. The other songs just kind of seem to throw some boilerplate jazz turnarounds into rockabilly songs.

    At the end of the day, I wish Setzer had gone in more a direction like John Fogerty would have gone in with Blue Moon Swamp or the cover record he did a while back. His playing is great but the record just isn't very good and as good as a player as Brian is I just don't find his playing enjoyable on a lot of this stuff.

    Obviously he sells a lot of records and is a much better player than I am, but it's just my opinion.

    I think I actually have a couple of his solo records listed in a post above so I'll pull those out over the next week or so and give them a listen. Like I've said, as a kid he was my goto guy. I really want him to make a record I love.

    The other guy that I loved as much as Setzer back then was Marshall Crenshaw. He's a guy who doesn't get 1/1000th of the praise he deserves (or at least he didn't in the 80s when I was buying his records). I still buy his records because he writes great songs and plays great guitar.

    I've seen him alone and with bands. If you like Setzer check out his stuff.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2020
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