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Lee Rocker, with Back Porch Mary and Romeo Dogs

Though best known as the bassist for the Stray Cats -- whose pompadours and time-warp MTV videos often overshadowed their real musical talent and ability -- Lee Rocker has continued to be a roots-rock standard-bearer after going solo. His new CD, Racin' with the Devil, is a borderline spectacular exploration of more than just rave-up rockabilly. Sprinkled with doses of mellower country, the album features high-energy tunes such as "Race Track Blues" and "Rockin' Harder," which work a bit better than forays into balladry and Rev. Horton Heat-style psychobilly ("The Girl from Hell"). Guitarist Brophy Dale really stands out with his sinewy playing and solos, and Rocker's vocals -- while not as versatile as top Cat Brian Setzer -- work within the context of the material, sounding almost Rodney Crowell-like on 'Runnin' from the Hounds." A remake of the Cats' "Rock This Town" is unnecessary, but the lively instrumental "Swing This" shows Rocker and his stand-up (and often stood-on) slap bass won't be pigeonholed into one genre.


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