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Stray Cats

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The key group of the early-'80s rockabilly revival, the Stray Cats scored several big hits on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to a striking visual style tailor-made for the early days of MTV, as well as genuine musical chops that evoked the best players of rockabilly's original heyday. The Stray Cats were formed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer in the Long Island town of Massapequa, NY, in 1979. At first, Setzer played rockabilly covers in a band called the Tom Cats with his brother, drummer Gary, and bassist Bob Beecher; however, Setzer soon abandoned that group to join up with newly rechristened school friends Lee Rocker (born Leon Drucker) and Slim Jim Phantom (born James McDonnell). However, their retro '50s look and sound didn't go over well around Long Island, and in the summer of 1980, the group headed to England, where a rockabilly revival movement was just beginning to emerge. After one of their gigs in London, the Stray Cats met producer Dave Edmunds, well known as a roots rock enthusiast for his work with Rockpile, and as a solo artist. Edmunds offered to work with the group, and they entered the studio to record their self-titled debut album, released in England in 1981 on Arista. They were popular right out of the box, scoring three straight hits that year with "Runaway Boys," "Rock This Town," and "Stray Cat Strut." The follow-up, Gonna Ball, wasn't as well received and, stung by the negative reviews, the Stray Cats decided to return to the States and make a go of it. They signed with EMI America and in 1982 released their U.S. debut, Built for Speed, which compiled the highlights from their two British LPs. Helped by extensive airplay on MTV at the height of the anything-goes new wave era, "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" both hit the American Top Ten, over a year after their British chart peaks. As a result, Built for Speed was a left-field smash, and the Stray Cats were seen as avatars of retro style. Their second American album, Rant n' Rave with the Stray Cats, appeared in 1983 and produced another Top Ten hit in "(She's) Sexy + 17," as well as a minor Top 40 entry in the doo wop-styled ballad "I Won't Stand in Your Way." Personality conflicts began to emerge in the ways the individual members handled their newfound success: Phantom married actress (and former Rod Stewart paramour) Britt Ekland, while Setzer made guest appearances with stars like Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks and became the concert guitarist for Robert Plant's Honeydrippers side project. In late 1984, Setzer broke up the band amid much bad blood. Rocker and Phantom immediately teamed up with guitarist Earl Slick and recorded an album as Phantom, Rocker & Slick, while Setzer waited a couple of years before releasing his roots rock solo debut, The Knife Feels Like Justice. By 1986, fences had apparently been mended enough for the Stray Cats to reconvene in Los Angeles and record the covers-heavy Rock Therapy, which didn't sell that well. The trio returned to their respective post-Stray Cats projects, which both released albums that performed disappointingly. In 1989, they reunited once again for the album Blast Off, which was accompanied by a tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan. No longer with EMI, the Cats entered the studio with Nile Rodgers for the lackluster Let's Go Faster, issued by Liberation in 1990. 1992's Dave Edmunds-produced Choo Choo Hot Fish also attracted little attention, and after another covers album, Original Cool, the group called it quits again. They have since reunited periodically for live performances. Setzer, of course, went on to spearhead the '90s swing revival with his Brian Setzer Orchestra, which performed classic big-band swing and jump blues tunes, as well as Setzer originals. ~ Steve Huey
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Albums by
Stray Cats

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    10 songs

    On Air

    Live at the Roxy 1981

    10 songs

    On Air

    Stray Tracks

    11 songs

    On Air

    Choo Choo Hot Fish

    12 songs

    On Air

    Built for Speed

    15 songs

    On Air

    Hollywood Strut

    17 songs

    On Air

    Greatest Hits [2000]

    25 songs

    On Air

    Runaway Boys: A Retrospective '81-'92

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Amsterdam, 14th July , 2004

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Berlin: 12th July, 2004

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Barcelona 7/22/04

    18 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Bonn 7/29/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Brussels 7/6/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Hamburg 7/16/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Helsinki 7/9/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Holland 7/30/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Lyon 7/26/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Paris 7/5/04

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Europe: Turku 7/10/04

    18 songs

    On Air

    Live in Gijon: 24th July, 2004

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Luzern: 27th July, 2004

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in Manchester July 16, 2004

    24 songs

    On Air

    Rumble in Brixton

    17 songs

    On Air

    Live in London, 17th July, 2004

    12 songs

    On Air

    Forever Gold: The Stray Cats

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Top Songs by
Stray Cats

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Stray Cat Strut
  3.   Rock This Town
  4.   (She's) Sexy + 17
  5.   Built for Speed
  6.   Cruisin
  7.   Runaway Boys
  8.   My One Desire
  9.   Fishnet Stockings
  10.   Bonus Materials
  11.   Rev It Up and Go
  12.   Hotrod Gang
  13.   Blast Off
  14.   Give It to Me
  15.   Stray Cats Strut
  16.   Look at That Cadillac
  17.   My Baby Left Me
  18.   56 Stray Cats Medley: Be Bop a Lula/Summertime Blues/Gene and Eddie
  19.   Something's Wrong With My Radio
  20.   Baby Blue Eyes
  21.   Rumble in Brighton
  22.   That's All Right
  23.   Race With the Devil
  24.   Lucky Charm (Ooh Wee Suzy)
  25.   I Won't Stand in Your Way
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Stray Cats

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    Rooster Teeth: I Am The DJ

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    '80s Hits

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    '80s Rock

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    Classic Hits


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