Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stray Cats - Back to the Alley The Best of the Stray Cats


Aaah, still makes me smile.  Even had me bopping in my seat on the way to work, and whistling the tunes all day.

So, I've been a Cats fan since back in the day, and got to see them in the late 80s.  First gig was at a local venue, and I was so excited by it, I decided to trek to the Blacktown Worker's Club (in the at-the-time scary western suburbs) to catch them one more time.  Alone.  Had hardly ever been anywhere west of the inner city socially before.

And the venue was amazing, there were heaps and heaps of the rockabilly crowd there with twirly skirts and pompadours.  This time I only had one drink and plastered myself to the front of the stage, for one of the best gigs I've ever seen.  Gene and Eddie two feet from my nose, oh yeah.

Now, that time I'd gone along without my then-boyfriend (hi, Lindsay!) who'd actually introduced me to the Cats as something more than a novelty act, but who was on call that night and couldn't go out.  So for the first (and last) time ever, I decided to hang around the stage door and see if I could get him an autograph, just as a "thank you" to him.  Because seriously?  I was from the city.  If we don't know the band, we go home.  It's just not cool.

Aaanyway, they came out to a relatively small crowd who were mostly in costume, but didn't sign any autographs.  Which got me steamed.  So, I hopped in my car and followed them, along with a pack of others.  I know.  Deeply uncool.  The driver had obviously done this before, because he went on a high-speed jaunt through the back streets, and all the time I'm hoping I don't lose them because I had no idea where I was, but eventually he headed into town.  Late at night, on a weeknight, not much traffic and doing at least 30 kilometres (20 miles) an hour over the limit.  But I hung on.  Blew at least one red light (in the days before red light cameras).

When the minibus finally got to Kings Cross I was cursing myself.  I was a city girl, they were staying in the "celebrity" hotel, I should have guessed.  And then they blew me off!  I was the only car that had stuck with them, but they were bundled out and up to their rooms.  However, I did get a bit of consolation.  The driver looked at me and said "Fuck girl, you can really drive!"

I headed off to the Manzil Room (a muso's hangout) and had a few drinks with their support act, whose name escapes me now.  Never did get that autograph.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (I'll have a whiskey on the rocks and a change of a dollar for the jukebox)


Okay, so Mine has a great story about the Stray Cats.  While this isn't a competition, I would like to be able to offer my own similarly poignant, funny story, perhaps hinged on karmic schadenfreude or sweet comeuppance.

But nope, I don't have anything even approximating a story such as hers.  The best I can offer is those days and nights long ago I spent cruising in my old black 63 Chevy Belair.  I had the Stray Cats first, self-titled album on cassette and used to flog the hell out of it and a bunch of others while driving around in that beautiful beast of a car.  This is music made for cruising in hot cars.  And boy, could the Cats play.  They are still one of my favourite three piece acts.

Most of the tracks on this collection are from the same album.  Listening back, I added another couple of songs to my deserted island mixed tape in Stray Cat Strut and Runaway Boys. I still get the same thrill when I hear the start of the latter, which broke traditional pop formula by starting with a lead guitar back and in doing so created one of the classic rock tracks of all time.  In my humble opinion, of course.  And after such a grand statement, what else is there to say except...

VERDICT: TURN IT UP, wind the windows down and lets go cruisin...

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