Guitar Slinger by The Brian Setzer Orchestra is an underrated swing revival album which uses a mixture of cabaret swing, rockabilly, and swing jazz. For the most part the album relies heavily on that swing revival sound of swing jazz. Now the album does entirely rely on the swing revival sound or jazz. Songs such as Ghost Radio, Buzz Buzz, Guitar Slinger, (The Legend of) Johnny Kool, and Sammy Davis City rely on that vintage rockabilly sound. But one thing is certain is that Guitar Slinger was an underrated swing revival album for its time.
The Man With the Magic Touch uses loud vibrant cabaret swing production like you would hear on Broadway in New York City or Las Vegas. The song has that theatrical sound. Brian sings about the many who has the magic touch when it comes to card games.
Now some people got it and some people don’t. I’m talking about getting all the things in life that you want. You can wish it might happen. You can call it dumb luck. But that guy’s so lucky, he’s just way much too much. He’s the man with the magic touch. Don’t give me all that “got lucky” such and such.
He won an all-expenses-paid vacation on a cruise ship around the world And when he gets home, he don’t bother lookin’ for no girl. He’s got a straight to the ace and a royal flush. If he don’t want it, he throws it right back. He knows some poor sucker’s gonna take up the slack. When it comes to good loving, he ain’t hesitating. Baby go rub his back for good luck.
Brian talks about getting caught up in a thunderstorm west of the Pecos River in Texas on the Texas swing influenced Ghost Radio. He encounters a group people trapped in a flood over a bridge that overlaps across the Pecos River. He hauled those people free with the grinding of his engine in his Ford truck.
Ghost Radio uses a mixture of Western swing, Texas swing, rockabilly, cabaret, and jazz. The song heavily relies on the sounds of Western swing, Texas swing, rockabilly, and cabaret swing for the most part.
As Brian came across the Pecos River in Texas and broke west of the line, this thunderstorm was running towards west of the Pecos River, it ran him out of time. So he was racing through the rain with this rig from Tennessee when a voice cut through the static thus bringing comfort home to Brian.
They were singing. Brian ain’t sittin’ in no shack. He’s got himself a Ford right out the back. If he ain’t there in nothing flat with a honky-tonk attitude, he’ll be doing the straight line swing.
Now the levee wall somewhere along the Pecos River was breaking. Rocks were rolling from the ridge. An announcer broke in saying there was a bus trapped on the bridge. So Brian turned his rig around only to find he was axle-deep in mud. And he found those people stranded. The bridge was groaning in the flood.
He hauled those people free with the grinding of his engine in his Ford truck as the raging river was rising. The driver came thanking him. So Brian told him about the message. The driver said, “That can’t be right. The storm knocked out the radio tower late last Saturday night.” Still Brian’s radio was singing. He ain’t sitting in no shack.
Brian pays homage and tribute to Texas swing pioneer legends such as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the song with these lyrics”Out the dead air on the waveband, the Texas Playboys break/You’ll hear a keening voice, Bob Wills is with you as you drive/And you’ll know you got a broadcast straight from 1935”
Brian sings about how his lady only cares for him on the song called My Baby Only Cares for Me.
Brian’s lady don’t hang out with anyone else in the crowd. Her stiletto heels tap on the dance floor as she does what she feels as the crowd roars. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of her. Hey loverboy, you ain’t got nothin’ she needs. Brian’s baby only cares for Brian.
They’re a ship in the night all alone on the sea. Silently waiting for love to explode on the scene. Secretly wishing for someone to sweep her away. What can he say? It could happen. Barons and earls would love to date her. She doesn’t give second chances. Just one dance and you’ll be caught in her trance.
Guitar Slinger is the guitar driven rockabilly ballad of the album. Brian tells an anecdote of how The Brian Setzer Orchestra adventures split to nail a rumor about some gigs for work in New Orleans, Louisiana. You gotta keep moving in a mean town. It’s better going nowhere than just standing around. That’s the message used and conveyed in the song.
The restaurant establishment kicked The Brian Setzer Orchestra out for playing too loud. Brian carried his amp out through the crowd. Some chick took a beer and threw it in his face but just kept on walking.
Outside it was warm. There was a good crowd on the strip. The Brian Setzer Orchestra set they stuff down and had a smoke like they were waiting for a ride. And all the while Brian was thinking, “You gotta keep moving in a mean, mean town.” It’s better going nowhere than just standing around. By tomorrow morning he’ll be leaving town. He’ll go any place but he ain’t going down.
Brian called Shorty and Lefty. There was a bassman called Beans. So they split to nail a rumor about some work in New Orleans. A twenty fed the tank. Two bucks fed the band. Maybe they could make it down in jambalaya band in a Meade Lux Lewis bar. That’s where they found the job. Knocking tin pan out for tips mostly from the mob. The Brian Setzer Orchestra play the blues when they’re drunk. They’ll get some shirts from the islands and some Cuban rock ‘n’ roll shoes.
But when The Brian Setzer Orchestra played the Lost Highway, a juice head said The Brian Setzer Orchestra were hicks. And the whole bar began to beat them with pool sticks and half sticks. They got the radio out of the car. They must have used a bomb. But when The Brian Setzer Orchestra piled in and gunned her, she still sang the sweetest sung.
Lefty woke among the bottles. He said he could not come north. They left him on Canal Street trading in his drums. Brian saw Elvis hitchhiking out on the interstate (I 10). Beans was getting paranoid about their California plates.
A police cruiser pulled them over right across the line. Police had booked all of the members in as vagrants in holding tank number #9. You learn how to flat pick when you’re looking at a .44. You do the orange blossom special till the peel falls on the floor. The bass man had a bust from back home in a raid. So it was just Brian and Shorty. Standing on main parade. They liquidized our assets in a bar and did not talk.
Then they hopped a non stop greyhound to the big bad beauty of New York City, New York. Brian woke up on 23rd Street. As someone backed into the slot, Brian saw that him and Shorty had been robbed of the belongings they had. Then a guy said through the window, “This is the end of the line.” Brian said, “Brother, I’m a guitar slinger. And this is just doing fine.”
(The Legend of) Johnny Kool told the anecdote of a rebel named Johnny Kool. Everyone can’t stop talking about the legend of Johnny Kool. The song uses a mixture of swing jazz and classic rock with the horns, cymbals, and guitar.
Brian had one cup of coffee and a cigarette. Then he rolled out of bed with his shirt soaking wet. If he was gonna get movin’, now was the time. So he packed up his bags and his Gretsch ’59.
It’s a tough life but when push comes to shove. It’s the only life for Johnny Kool. He was a rebel that broke all the rules. He played his guitar and he sang like a fool. Everyone can’t stop talking about the legend of Johnny Kool. Rumor had it now this cat had it all. He was loud, he was wild, and he sure rocked the hall. Some guy grabbed Brian’s arm and he jumped on the stage. And he was rockin’ with a guy who was twice his age.
Buzz Buzz is a jazz rock influenced rockabilly song which revisits (The Legend of) Johnny Kool as the Johnny Kool character is used. Johnny Kool finds himself abusing drugs through the use of a syringe. The song deals with the pain of drug addiction.
Johnny’s got a habit that he can’t hide. Johnny Kool is livin’ life from high to high. When nighttime comes, you can hear him cry with each jolt of pain from the needle. Buzz buzz goes the needle. Day is night and night is day. Being alive just gets in the way. The twisting snake inside his brain whispers to him, “Time to kill the pain” Takin’ a walk on the wild side.
They told him opportunity was just around the corner. Well he wore out his shoes tryin’ to find that corner. He might just pick himself up again. Buzz buzz goes the needle. He’s not a new tattoo dedicated to you as the ink and the blood mix with pain. It’s a man on a white horse goin’ nowhere. And the man has no face or no name. With the walls closin’ in, he’s runnin’ for cover. He’s spinnin’ way out of control.
I rate this album 5/5*****!!