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The Stray Cats' new live album is the best live music experience you're likely to get this year

Stray Cats portrait
(Image credit: Surfdog Records)

The Stray Cats have reunited and recorded albums many times since their first break-up back in ’84 – but none of those peace summits quite matched the emotional weight of their latest album, 2019's 40

It was a record that made it quite easy to forget the fact The Stray Cats – made up of original founding members Brian Setzer (guitar, vocals), Lee Rocker (upright bass, vocals) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums, vocals) – were a band four decades into their career, as it carried all the passion, chutzpah and energy of their ’81 debut. 

It also cemented the fact that there’s nothing quite as thrilling as a veteran band that still wants to show you who’s boss – especially when you're catching that veteran band in a live setting. The Stray Cats have always been a riot live, but with 40 they had something to prove – and prove it they did, on a tour which took the album all the way from London to LA. "It's in a live setting that Stray Cats truly flourish," said our Classic Rock review of the band's Hammersmith gig. "The joint is soon rockin' and sweatin' in equal measure."

Fortuitously, the band had decided to record each of the shows on the tour with a view to releasing the ultimate career-spanning live album. The result is Rocked This Town: From LA To London. Capturing that "live lightning" experience, the album was produced by the band themselves, and mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys). Its tracklisting is essentially a rebooted greatest hits, featuring everything from 80s classics Runaway Boys and Rock This Town to the brand-new scorchers from 40

The album comes as a fortuitous time, not just for the band but for music fans in general. With the live music world still shut down for the foreseeable, we're all craving the thrill of being back at a live gig. For now, The Stray Cats are bringing you the next best thing. Just get your partner, child or housemates to spill a beer into you and dance around getting sweaty and it'll pretty much be like you're right there with them. 

Rocked This Town: From London to LA is available September 11 via Surfdog Records (opens in new tab) on CD boxset, light blue double LP and digitally.

Classic Rock

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