Rock This Town: One of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll

Rock This Town
Single: Stray Cats
Album:
Stray Cats (UK)
Built for Speed (US)
Released:
January 30, 1981 (UK)
August  31, 1982 (US)
Genre: Rockabilly
Songwriter: Brian Setzer

"Rock This Town," by the American rockabilly band Stray Cats, was first released in the UK from the band's 1981 debut album, Stray Cats. It peaked at Number Nine on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, the song was released in 1982 from the band's LP Built for Speed, where it rose to Number Nine on Billboard's Singles chart as well. It's listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the "500 Songs" that Shaped Rock and Roll."

Stray Cats

The Stray Cats are guitarist and vocalist Brian Setzer, double bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom. The band formed in 1979 in the town of Massapequa, New York. The group was influenced by Eddie CochranCarl PerkinsGene Vincent, and Bill Haley & His Comets. They played - with limited success - at CBGB, Max's Kansas City and venues around Long Island. The band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.  

Stray Cats
Stray Cats: Clockwise from rear left:
Slim Jim Phantom, Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker

In the summer of 1980, the Cats headed to England, where a revival of the 1950s Teddy Boy youth subculture was emerging. They blended the 1950s Sun Studio sound with modern punk musical elements and 1950 rockabilly outfits with punk gear while sporting modern versions of 1950s hair styles. They had three hits in England from their self-titled debut album:  "Runaway Boys," "Rock This Town," and "Stray Cat Strut."  The album peaked at Number Six on the UK Albums Chart. "Runaway Boys" was the Stray Cats breakthrough single in the UK, where it peaked at Number Nine on the Singles Chart. It got little attention in America. 

Built for Speed


The second album released in the UK , Gonna Ball, disappointed their record label by producing no hit singles. However, the combined sales of their first two albums convinced EMI America to compile the best tracks from the two UK albums and issue the LP Built for Speed in 1982. The record sold a million copies in the US and Canada and was Number Two on Billboard's album chart for 15 weeks. 

Stray Cat Strut
Single: Stray Cats
Album:
Stray Cats(UK)
Built for Speed(US)
B-side
Drink That Bottle Down (UK)
You Don't Believe Me (US)
Released:
April 17, 1981 (UK)
June 11, 1982 (US)
Genre: Rockabilly
Songwriter: Brian Setzer

"Stray Cat Strut" was first released as a single in the US on June 11, 1982; the same month as the Built for Speed album . It failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 109 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. When the band's next single, "Rock This Town," made the top 10, the record company decided to re-release "Stray Cat Strut." This time, it debuted at number 43,  the highest new entry, December 25, 1982. It peaked at Number Three in March 1983. The music video received extensive airplay on MTV.  In the October 1998 issue of Guitar World magazine, Brian Setzer's solo from "Stray Cat Strut" ranked number 92 of the "Top 100 Guitar Solos of All Time" list.


Rock This Town

"Rock This Town" was released on August 31, 1982, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of September 18, 1982, and peaked at Number Nine.

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