Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Vavoom! (2000)

On Vavoom!, Brian Setzer's fourth orchestra release, the former leader of The Stray Cats really takes you back in time, to pre-American involvement in World War Two, covering Glenn Miller's "Pennsylvania 6-5000" and "In The Mood" both featuring his trademark large horn band and furious, rockabilly guitar.

Vavoom! is different than Setzer's previous big band efforts because of the way the guitarist reinvented these classics. He modernized "Pennsylvania" by adding electronics, sampling, and lyrics to a song that was originally an instrumental hit and, by doing so, he almost turned it into an entirely new work. The arrangement catches fire immediately, opening the proceedings with the best thirty second introduction to an album I've heard in years. Setzer keeps the flames burning in a way that would have sent Miller running for cover.

Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is also given a new rock treatment.

The only misfire in the entire set is "Mack The Knife." While there really isn't anything wrong with Setzer's version it is way too close to Bobby Darin's famous hit single for him to have bothered.

The leader's vocals, as usual, complement his greaser big band perfectly. He really could have been a lounge singer if he wanted to pursue that road.

Vavoom! is not the band's best album but it's another interesting effort worthy of your time.

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