Picks and Pans Review: The Brian Setzer Orchestra

updated 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

So what did Setzer, the pompadoured former front man of the Stray Cats, do after retiring that '80s mega-selling rockabilly trio? He founded a 17-piece big-band orchestra, naturally. But stifle that laughter and give this cat a chance He'll knock your socks off.

Setzer comes out swinging with a sassy song called "Lady Luck," one of several original tunes here. He then shifts smoothly from old rockers, such as a souped-up version of "Brand New Cadillac" to enduring standards like "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," first popularized by Al Jolson and Glenn Miller respectively. Such mood swings could be disturbing, but Setzer makes it all sound easy, seeming as confident leading a big band as he is squeezing off a few nimble jazz runs on the guitar.

The only real misstep is the overly ambitious, strings-saturated "September Skies," which is simply too incongruous. No biggie though. If you feel the ground tremble a bit, it's probably one of those swing-era bandleaders rockin' (rather than rollin') in his grave. (Hollywood)

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