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Brian Setzer

13 – 2006 (Surfdog)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Brian Setzer

Blazing away with every guitar trick at his command, Brian Setzer has crafted the hardest rocking album of his career. Forgoing by-the-letter reliance on specific genres, the former Stray Cat employs a bold, creative approach sure to alienate purists.

There's hardly a guitar-based style that Setzer doesn't turn inside out. The greasy antiauthoritarian raver "Everybody's Up to Something" echoes Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," and the punky cacophony of "Bad Bad Girl (In a Bad Bad World)" embraces Iggy Pop's take on "Wild Child." The anti-commercial Bo Diddleyish vamp "We Are the Marauders"- wherein Setzer declares "American Idol is a bunch of crap" - is pure garage rock

Rockabilly, a la Merle Travis and Scotty Moore, is transformed into fuzz-tone '60s rock with the cautionary "Drugs and Alcohol (Bullet Proof)." Moreover, dragstrip surf informs his scathing commentary (complete with Johnny Burnette impression) on inflexible hardcore purists with "Really Rockabilly."

There exist abrupt, yet delightful, segues into softer styles, i.e., the Les Paul-inspired Hawaiian swing of "Mini Bar Blues" and the folky "The Hennepin Avenue Bridge." However, "13" succeeds because Setzer plays with all the youthful abandon and high technical skill that rock 'n' roll is supposed to have, and he's not standing for any objections.