Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast Review: A Great Live Concert DVD

The American Rockabilly scene would not be what it is today without the influential music of the Stray Cats. Their rocking sound introduced a new generation to the sounds of the 1950s while helping change the 1980’s music scene with their original sounds and songs. Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast features two early Stray Cats concerts, both recorded in Germany in the early 1980s. The earlier concert footage is from Satrory-Sale Cologne on July 16th, 1981, and the later concert is from Open Air Loreley on August 20th,1983. This is the first time in over 30 years this concert footage has been released and made available to fans around the world.

While you can play the concerts in any order you want, the DVD starts with the 1983 concert. Watching them back to back there is evident growth in the two years between these shows. The 1981 concert has a more brazen and tough-talking Setzer, whereas by 1983 he knows how to finesse his audience a little more. But for this rockabilly gal, both shows are fantastic. While the main thing to watch on this DVD is the talented playing of Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker, this DVD is great just to listen to without having to watch the shows.

The sound is so incredible I watched really closely to make sure the music and vocal tracks had not been overlaid onto the footage. The clarity of sound is the kind I dream of at a concert: clean and balanced. This DVD has the kind of sound I wish every live album or DVD had, but rarely does. Oftentimes live recordings end up sounding chaotic, with way too much audience noise mixed in. Although there are places where the audience cannot be heard at all during the 1983 show, I would much rather hear the band than the fans. I could hear the plucking of Rocker’s bass strings, the crispness of Phantom’s drums, and the rock twang of Setzer’s Gretsch guitar along with their vocals.

This is a fairly straightforward concert disc, the only extra is the set lists for each concert, which are also printed on the back of the DVD. The Stray Cats were always a straigh forward band without a ton of frills, just good rockabilly.

The DVD packaging features great black and white photography from both concerts and a photo booklet with a German and English write-up about the band by journalist Thorsten Wilms.

Available on DVD and as a DVD/2-CD set, Stray Cats: Live at Rockpalast presents two great concerts and is a must-have for any die-hard fan. All in all, there are only five songs repeated between the two performances.

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Darcy Staniforth

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