‘Live at Rockpalast’ captures Stray Cats at their creative peak

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2000:  (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of STRAY CATS and Slim Jim PHANTOM and Brian SETZER and Lee ROCKER; L-R: Slim Jim Phantom, Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker - posed, studio, group shot  (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

‘Live at Rockpalast’
Stray Cats (MIG/MVD Audio)
4 stars out of 5

I was in middle school when Brian Setzer and his Stray Cats exploded onto the scene in the early 1980s with a rockabilly revival sound that spat in the face of the new wave craze that ruled the airwaves at the time. Their first three albums — 1981’s self-titled debut and “Gonna Ball,” along with breakout 1982 platter “Built for Speed” — are pretty close to perfect and still sound great all these years later.

Stray Cats CDThe trio (Setzer, Lee Rocker, Slim Jim Phantom) were at the top of their game when they performed a pair of legendary Rockpalast concerts in 1981 and 1983. Those German shows are available together for the first time on two-CD, one-DVD set “Live at Rockpalast.”

The DVD showcases the 1983 show at Loreley Open Air and the 1981 gig in Cologne in their entirety and the Stray Cats’ energy is infectious. CD 1 is a 17-track, 71-track tour de force at Loreley, while CD 2 is the every-bit-as-good 14-song, 65-minute show in Cologne.

Among the highlights of “Live at Rockapalast” are spirited renditions of “Baby Blue Eyes,” “Rumble in Brighton,” “Drink That Bottle Down,” “Runaway Summer Boys,” “Tear It Up” and signature Stray Cats tunes “Built for Speed,” “Stray Cat Strut,” “She’s Sexy and 17” and “Rock This Town.” Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)

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