Album review: Brian Setzer, The Knife Feels Like Justice (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 23, 1986

By Steve Newton

For his first solo album, former Stray Cats guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer has surrounded himself with a crack band that includes former Derringer bassist Kenny Aaronson, Allman Brothers keyboardist Chuck Leavell, John Cougar Mellencamp’s drummer Kenny Aronoff, and a fiery guitarist by the name of Tommy Byrnes. The result is a powerhouse rock and roll album that you can play over and over and never get sick of.

Anyone who saw Setzer perform “Radiation Ranch” on Late Night with Daid Letterman a few weeks back knows that it’s the sort of tune that leads to speeding tickets. It’s the most boogieish tune on The Knife Feels Like Justice, but there are plenty of other rockers in a more ’50s vein. If Elvis was alive today, you can bet he’d be into this swingin’ disc.

Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell plays 12-string on one song, Late Night drummer Steve Jordan and Petty organist Benmont Tench help out on another, and Little Steven Van Zandt gets co-songwriting credits on one too. The Knife Feels Like Justice was produced by Don Gehman, who also oversees Mellencamp’s records.

 

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