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Brian Setzer Orchestra - The Dirty Boogie

Old School Jive
by: bill aicher

Oh yeah I know Brian Setzer Orchestra!  They are the ones who do the Khakis Swing commercial song right?   Well, yes and no.  They did a remake of it, but the original (the one in the commercial) was done by Louis Prima.  Whatever, those are just little details - what I am sure you want to know is how good the album is, or at least what I think of it.

Brian Setzer has been around for a long time, for those of you who don't remember the 80s.  Those were the days when The Stray Cats were around.  Their sound was totally original in the pop music scene those days, with hits such as "Stray Cats Strut" and "Rock This Town".  Rockabilly was the name of their game, until they broke up that is.

What we are left with is Brian Setzer's latest group - the Brian Setzer Orchestra.  Actually they have been around for quite some time as well.  Their self-titled CD came out in 1994, with a follow-up of Guitar Slinger in 1996.  Dirty Boogie is their third effort (1998), an effort which has hit it HUGE.  Most of the success of the album can be attributed to the resurgence of popularity for the swing music genre.  What most people don't realize is that Brian Setzer Orchestra is not true swing.  Instead they are still a rockabilly band with a swing twist.  Sure, tracks like "Jump, Jive, 'an Wail" are great swing dance songs.  But honestly, can someone call the remake of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" a swing song? 

I assume you have gotten my point, that being that the CD is not an all-out swing jamboree.  The band is great, as I am a big fan of the Stray Cats.  Any fan of rockabilly is sure to enjoy this CD.  Also, if you are a fan of covers this is a great disc.  The band covers tracks such as the aforementioned "Sleepwalk", as well as the Skyliners' "Since I Don't Have You" and Bobby Darin's "As Long As I'm Singing".   Hell, Setzer even does a rearrangement of the Stray Cats' "Rock This Town".  (I personally like the original better). 

Overall this is a good album.  You are sure to be able to dance to every song on the CD, although you won't necessarily be swinging to all of them.  One of the greatest tracks in my mind is the duet "You're the Boss" which features guest vocalist Gwen Stefani (No Doubt).   It has a sassy twinge to it, probably one of Stefani's best songs yet.  Just keep in mind this is not as swing as you may be looking for - if you are looking for a total swing CD, you may want to move on.  However, I am sure you just really want to get that Khaki's Swing song.

Artist Brian Setzer Orchestra
Album Dirty Boogie
Label UNI / Interscope
Date 06.23.98
Rating 3.5 out of 5.0