Monday, 2 February 2009

Shaky's Occasional Bootleg Series - No.2

Stray Cats - The Fumble
Beech Marten Records 019

Double Talkin' Baby - Rumble In Brighton - Blast Off - Runaway Boys - Rockabilly Rules Okay - Nine Lives - Gina - Stray Cat Strut - Rock This Town - She's Sexy And 17 - Built For Speed

This cracking bootleg was recorded for the King Flower Biscuit Hour at the Ritz, New York City on 18 October 1988. As you would expect from the King Flower shows, the sound quality is excellent. The programme aired on 5th January 1989 some three months after it was recorded. The tracklisting, as you would expect from that timeline, features four songs from the then current Blast Off! album.

When the opening track kicks off you could be mistaken for thinking that the recording was just the original with an overdubbed crowd. Two superb extended guitar solos soon put you straight. Rumble in Brighton has all the menace and attitude you'd expect, with Brian's mumbling guitar driving the song along as Slim Jim beats the skins into submission. This is as good a live version of the song as I've heard. Blast Off is introduced as "the first one we've written for a long time" is a stormer, quite literally blasting off. Runaway Boys is good, but I don't think I've ever heard them do it live that quite captures the excitement of the original single. When the 45 came out in 1980 it was a totally new sound, more atmospheric than most rockabilly songs - I just don't think it's been possible to recreate that on stage.

Rockabilly Rules OK storms along with Lee Rocker and Slim Jim proving they're the best two-man rhythm section on the planet. Nine Lives slows the pace down, a fine version of the Fever meets Stray Cat Strut single. Setzer sums up Gina with the announcement that it's "a new song with a kinda Buddy Holly beat". The crown lap up the extended version of Stray Cat Strut and Rock This Town with the later building into a frenzy by the end. I remember being so excited when I first heard She's Sexy And 17 and being so disappointed when it stopped climbing the charts - the version here is great and unlike Runaway boys it does manage to reflect the magic of the 45.

Lee Rocker produces the goods on Built For Speed, dedicated to everyone who got to the gig in a '57 Chevy or on a Harley Davidson. The boys turn it into a medley with a snippet of Hot Rod Race thrown in half way through. It's a cracking end to an excellent live CD. Long may goodies from the early days of the Cats turn up.

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