Conjunto Musical Gilez

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Rockabilly Riot!

O mestre Brian Setzer lançou um novo disco. Agora, só com regravações dos clássicos da Sun Records, a gravadora do Sam Phillips, de Memphis, que simplesmente lançou no mercado pernas-de-pau do calibre de Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins e Johnny Cash.

O disco é bom, um dos melhores dele em muito tempo. O cara andava fazendo chatices, diga-se, depois da era da orquestra. Monalisa é o destaque na pobre opinião deste guitarrista. As versões são similares às originais, mas tem o toque do Setzer. O que é muito bom: não é cópia nem invenção. É uma síntese das coisas. Ele dosou na medida certa o que não era e o que era para mexer nas músicas. Bravo.

Confiram a entrevista que ele deu para a Guitar Player americana de novembro sobre este disco:

Gretsch, Grease, and Sun
Brian Setzer Shines the Light on Sun Records’ Rockabilly Sides

By Darrin Fox November 2005

“Listen to those Sun rockabilly records from the ’50s, and you hear a group of guys huddled in a room in Memphis, basically inventing rock and roll,” says an amped-up Brian Setzer. “It doesn’t matter what style of guitar you play. Listening to those records is as important as learning your A-B-Cs.”

Anyone even remotely knowledgeable of Setzer’s career path knows that the 46-year-old guitarist is a rockabilly disciple to the core. His work with the Stray Cats in the early ’80s turned a barely smoldering rockabilly revival, into a full-on wildfire that, although short-lived, burned white hot.

These days, Setzer is as known for spearheading the swing revival of the mid ’90s as he is for the Lazarus job he did for rockabilly. But even though he still dips his toes in the stripped-down, turbulent rockabilly waters (2001’s Ignition is his most kick-ass example), it has been the swing of the Brian Setzer Orchestra that has kept him in the mainstream consciousness.

That may be about to change. Setzer’s new album, Rockabilly Riot! Volume One [Surfdog], is a tribute to 23 of Sun Records’ most hallowed rockabilly singles. From Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, to lesser-known greats such as Billy Lee Riley, Warren Smith, and Kenny Parchman, the album is a celebration of primal wail. Who knows? A second rockabilly revival may be in the cards.

Where did the idea for Rockabilly Riot! Volume One come from?
One day at home, I was playing the Sun 45 of Billy Lee Riley’s “Red Hot.” All of a sudden, my son and his buddies burst into the room saying, “Wow, that’s great. What is it?” Then they asked me to play them some more stuff. That’s when I decided to make a rockabilly record. I felt a lot of young people would dig it.

What makes those Sun rockabilly sides so magical?
That’s hard to put into words. It’s kind of like a good bowl of chili—it just has the right ingredients. The Sun singles really captured that first collision of blues, country, and post-WWII youth rebellion when a lot of people needed to vent. There’s a primitive, wild abandon to the music that’s unmistakable.

Did you think about tracking the album at the original Sun Studios in Memphis?
My first intention was to have Dave Edmunds produce the album, so I was going to go to Wales and track it with him there. Wales is about as un-Memphis as it gets, but I would get some peace and quiet, which is what I need when I’m making an album. But we had too many scheduling conflicts, and we couldn’t do it. So I figured we could do the album at Sun, but it isn’t really a functioning studio anymore. It’s more of a tourist spot. So we ended up at The Castle in Franklin, Tennessee, right outside of Nashville.

Rockabilly is pretty far off the pop-music radar these days. Did you think making this album was a big risk?No. I never think, “Is this a good time to try this?”
I do my albums out of the love for doing them. I don’t think this is a particularly bad time for this music, either. I have to tell you, I’ve never gotten rave reviews for a record like I have for this one. It has been crazy. I did a quick tour of Europe, and there were a ton of kids coming to the shows.

The tones are old school and vibey, but not necessarily like those on the original recordings. Was that on purpose?
It was. I just wanted a good sound, not necessarily a vintage sound. The gear I used the most was a ’57 Gretsch Duo Jet and a mid-’60s Supro Thunderbolt 1x15. For slapback delay, I tried an old Echoplex, but it blew up, so I stuck with my Roland Space Echo. To mix up the tones from track-to-track, I just used my ear. For the more rocking stuff, I simply turned up the amp. For some of the rockabilly stuff that’s a bit more twangy and country sounding, I just backed off the volume to clean things up.

The tone on “Lonely Wolf” is incredible.It’s almost punk rock, isn’t it?
I actually used a Gretsch 6119 on that one. I got it at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. It had these huge .012 gauge strings on it with a wound G string. I left them on there, and I just chain sawed the thing. It’s a hell of a sound. The only other guitar I used was a ’56 Martin D-28, because the chugging, driving acoustic rhythm was a big part of those Sun records. So I tracked live with the band with the electric guitar, and then overdubbed the acoustic. The Martin guitar was perfect—an absolute cannon. You also did an amazing job of referencing the old solos and guitar parts, but not playing them note-for-note.I want people to know it’s me playing, and I wasn’t going to sit down and learn these guys’ solos note-for-note! I took little motifs—the meat—from the guitar parts, but I used them as taking-off points. I took them, dusted them off, and straightened them up a bit.

What changes have you noticed in your style over the years?
I lay back in the pocket better than I used to. I think that’s something that gets better as you get older. I’m not as anxious as I was, say, 25 years ago. I’ve become more adept at playing jazz, but I don’t want to go too far down that road. I mean, listen to Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery—nobody is ever going to be that good!

You’ve had amazing career longevity on your terms. Do you think it’s possible that a band like the Stray Cats would have a chance in today’s musical climate?
No. Not now. It might happen in a couple of years. People need to get sick of being spoon fed the same stuff over and over. And, honestly, they’re not quite sick of it yet. Also, at the time the Stray Cats hit, the public was dying for new things, and I don’t really see that right now. I mean, I would hate to be an 18-year-old musician doing anything unique or original, and trying to break through and be heard. What would happen if Bob Dylan went on American Idol now? He’d be booed off the stage! I think that alone tells you that, as a musician, you’re dealing with a tough situation these days.