Picks and Pans Review: Blast Off

updated 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Stray Cats

They're tan. They're rested. They're ready to rock. All right, so maybe they're not so tan. A little bluish, in fact. This pallid trio actually owes most of its color to the garish patina of the tattoos they favor. But two out of three ain't bad, and they're definitely rested and ready. After four years apart, the Stray Cats have rebanded to make this combustible rockabilly album. They shoot off a few blanks on such pop-flavored tunes as "Bring It Back Again" and "Gina." But when they stay true to their m├ętier of '50s-style, hickory-smoked rock, the results are lean, propulsive songs, full of unflagging momentum from opening note to close. Highlights include the title track, "Everybody Needs Rock and Roll" and "Gene and Eddie," a song that pays tribute to Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran while quoting extensively from the rockabilly pioneers.

Rockabilly is an intrinsically simple and repetitive form. It would hold little interest even here if it wasn't for the aggressively springy guitar of Brian Setzer. Maybe we should all take a few years off. The time away from the recording grind sure recharged the Stray Cats' batteries. (EMI)

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