Around Our Town...Music to My Ears
Lee Rocker: Racin' The Devil
04/01/2006 - I have this weird theory. Rock and Roll should sound like Rock and Roll. It used to, right? It used to be stripped down and raw, like a '40 Ford Coupe lowered and chopped, fat tires, moon hubcaps and no fenders. A rebuilt, balanced and blueprinted 427 big block…I better stop. I'm getting' all bent out of shape. You see, back when rock was a little bitty baby, maybe fifty-five years ago, the energy was palpable. It was rebellious and dangerous, full of attitude. At the same time, the genre carried with it an inherent innocence that was built into our collective culture. Rock and Roll shoved us to the edge, where we teetered precariously out over the abyss, then grabbed us by the collar of our leather jackets and hauled us roughly back to safety. Those were the days, when kids could let it all go, without letting it all go.
That's the difference between what used to be and what is. Now, rock and roll seems to be marked by all out moral bankruptcy and decadence. There is no depth too low. Enter Lee Rocker, former bass player for the Stray Cats, the band who owns the distinction of single handedly resurrecting the dead art form of Rockabilly music back in the early 80's. Rock This Town? Stray Cat Strut? Anyone? Can I get a witness?
Lee Rocker and his band of rockerbillies have just released a true gem. "Racin' The Devil" is pure fun. Good, clean, naughty fun. I have to say that I'm inspired by what Mr. Rocker is doing. In fact, if I wasn't bald, I would slick back my hair on the sides with a pound of Crisco, and pile all that hair way high on top. If I wasn't husky, I'd wear tight white t-shirts (you can all thank me for not doing so later). If I smoked, I'd roll my Camels up in the sleeve of my t-shirt. If I wasn't a scaredy cat, I'd ride a big motorcycle around. I'd sneer a lot and wear sunglasses 24/7. I do wear jeans, though, but I don't roll up the cuffs.
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You know, now that I think about it, maybe I don't have any business reviewing this album. I don't believe I even register on the cool meter. No, I'm positive I don't. If being cool is the disease, I'm definitely the antidote. Lee defines cool, though. You ought to see the album art. Big hair, purple suit, black glasses and a stand-up bass that can only be described as real boss, Daddy-o.
So anyway, like I was saying, "Racin' The Devil" does it for me. The band is rock solid (The pun was fully intended here. You may now pause to reflect on how clever I am. All done? Can we move on now? Thanks.) Rocker's vocals are perfect, with all the hip shaking vibrato and reverb you'd expect from any self-respecting Rockabilly star. The bass is muscular and thick, the guitars chime and ring with that nostalgic bluesy twang and rocking swagger that makes all the hepcats snap their fingers. And then you get that signature giddyup percussion that compels you, forces you…to dance.
In fact, overwhelming impulse to dance to Lee Rocker's music is the reason I am now forbidden to play this disc in my house. You see, good people, there are those who would say that my figure is robust. You know, stout. Big-boned. And when I jitterbug in my living room, people get hurt and stuff gets broken. Not to mention the irreparable psychological damage done to my unfortunate children when they see Dad gyrating around like some maniacal, crazed water buffalo, grabbing Mom's hand and swinging her around like a limp little ragdoll, knocking over lamps and breaking the picture window. I'm telling you, there oughta be a law against this sort of activity.
Here's the bottom line. If you are planning on sticking potatoes in the exhaust pipes of your hometown police squad cars, draping the neighbor's house with toilet paper, rumbling with some guys from the school across town, skinny-dipping in the river at 2:00 am, drag racing down 2nd St., or dropping your prom date off on the porch in a shopping cart at dawn, this should be the music playing in the backround. It's fun. It's American. It's rock and roll, man. Oh, by the way, you really shouldn't do any of the stuff I just listed above. But you can listen to Lee Rocker's new disc and they can't arrest you for it.