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Lee Rocker

No Cats – 1998 (Upright)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Lee Rocker

Like his erstwhile bandmates Brian Setzer and Slim Jim Phantom, bassist Lee Rocker has had a difficult time in establishing an identity for himself outside of the Stray Cats. This finds him trying out a number of musical guises under the big "Americana" tent.

The album starts off strongly with "Rumblin' Bass," a rocking little number featuring some distinctive lead guitar work from ex-Cars guitarist Elliot Easton (who is also heard on a slightly odd version of Blondie's "One Way Or Another"). In fact, it's the uptempo numbers on which Rocker sounds most at home. "Miracle In Memphis," and "Love Me Good" would have fit in well on any of the later Stray Cats albums. Bluesier numbers like "Into the Void" and "Little Piece of Your Love" won't disappoint fans of Rocker's two mid-Nineties albums with Big Blue. Rocker is a little less convincing on slower, more introspective numbers like the Dire Straits-ish "Mr. Newman" and "Hard Rain," so out of character that it almost seems to be an attempt to break into the market.

Still, Rocker sounds great and one can't really blame him for wanting to try something outside of the rockabilly/blues genres. Give it a qualified thumbs-up and hope he goes for a more consistant musical direction next time around.