LEE ROCKER - GATHER ROUND
Gather Round - Lee Rocker
Released 22/01/2021 on Upright Records
Reviewed 01/01/2022 by Brandon Anderson (www.rockabillyrarities.com)
The Stray Cat, Lee Rocker, is at again with his 2021 solo release Gather Round featuring 10 original tunes from the grammy-nominated upright bass player. This record was mostly written during the pandemic while Lee, his wife, and their dog traveled the country in their Airstream! Lee later pieced things together through the various home studio sessions of him and his bandmates, creating a truly original rock and roll record.
Accompanying Lee Rocker is Buzz Campbell on guitar, Larry Mitchell on drums, and Matt Jordan on piano.
“Gather Round” is a straight-forward rockabilly stroll stopping on all the proper themes and laying down a chunky groove that gets you tapping your feet. This is the perfect song to get things started and the exact type of tune Lee Rocker is best known for.
“Graceland Auctions" has nice laidback Memphis vibe, transporting you to Elvis’ chosen hometown and his fabled estate Graceland. Buzz Campbell lays down some tasty guitar licks accompanying the flawless rhythm of Lee and the boys. Everybody may want a piece of the king but Lee Rocker and Co. have captured a piece of Elvis’ sound with the chunky r&b infused rhythm of ‘Graceland Auctions’.
“The Last Offline Lovers” is a rare acoustic-only track, showcasing a deeper side of Rocker’s songwriting prowess and creating a unique contrast to his usual hot-rodded and hopped-up rockabilly fare. Sometimes things get slow and emotional and that’s fine by us!
"Every Body Wants To Be a Cat” is almost like “Stray Cat Strut” revisited for 2021. A low slinky bassline and oh-so-sleazy guitar licks paint a perfect picture of the back-alley debauchery and late night shenanigans that take place after the sun goes down. This is definitely one of the standout tracks on Gather Round, capturing the essence of Lee Rocker’s signature sound.
“Pickin’ & Grinnin’” is the embodiment of the classic Sun Records sound with tons of tape echo and overdriven guitar licks drenched in reverb. When you combine these techniques with authentic style and sound of Lee and his band and you literally cannot fail. We dig the track, dig the title, and it still has us doing a little shuffle in our chair!
“Every Time I See You” would be the perfect B-side accompanied by “The Last Offline Lovers” on the A-side of a 45rpm single (just saying!). This song again captures a deeper side of Rocker’s songwriting chops, creating a song that would have definitely seen airplay on the radio in the late 1950s/early 1960s, no denying it! It has that old “wall of sound” vibe to the mastering and sounds like it was recorded on analogue gear, in fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case given the artist in question.
“A Dirty Martini” brings us back to Lee’s signature doghouse upright bass style accompanied by more fantastic guitar work from Buzz Campbell. Buzz Campbell is one of those super clean players that never fights his spot n the mix and always plays off of the other guys in the band to perfection. If you didn’t know who he was before, you do now! We really like this guy’s playing and can’t wait to hear future output from him. Keep that guy in your pocket Mr. Rocker!
“When Nothing’s Going Right” is one of our favorite tunes of the bunch, with more bumping rhythm and fantastic guitar work to create an instant rock and roll classic and a definite standout on Gather Round. Lee Rocker and his band channel the spirit of the greats like Eddie Cochrane and Gene Vincent on this rocking outing creating another song that would have found a sure home in the golden age of radio.
“Doghouse Shuffle” is probably our favorite track of the lot on Gather Round. It embodies that classic old school rock and roll sound making you want to throw all your cares behind and get out on the dance-floor and shake a leg. Lee proves why he is one of the best at what he does, taking the bassline for a thunderous walk while the rest of the band sticks right alongside him without faltering a bit. Nice work fellas!
“Ophelia” closes things out nicely with a rag time piano riff that plays perfectly to the vibe of this unique ender. “Ophelia” truly gives you a scope of Rockers’ artistic range and vast taste for many different musical styles.
Gather Round is an amped up rock and roll romp from one of the legends of modern rockabilly and rock and roll. This is one of the examples of the positive things to come from the pandemic, showing that creativity was in some ways amplified and gave people an outlet for what was/is going on. “Gather Round” definitely gets two huge thumbs up from us and we recommend it to anyone who lies to cut loose and have a ball!
Track 1. “Gather Round”
Track 2. “Graceland Auctions”
Track 3. “The Last Offline Lovers”
Track 4. “Every Body Wants To Be a Cat”
Track 5. “Pickin’ & Grinnin’"
Track 6. “Every Time I See You”
Track 7. “A Dirty Martini”
Track 8. “When Nothing’s Going Right”
Track 9. “Doghouse Shuffle”
Track 10. “Ophelia”
From the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, to appearing on Saturday Night Live, to headlining the US Festival and touring with the Rolling Stones, Lee Rocker has seen and done it all. In addition to The Stray Cats and the Rolling Stones, Rocker has toured and performed with George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and John Fogerty. In 1982 Rocker and his father Stanley Drucker, (classical clarinetist) both received Grammy nominations; this was something that has only occurred twice in the history of the Grammy Awards. In 2012 Lee appeared on Broadway in the hit musical "Million Dollar Quartet" and in 2014 he was inducted into the Bass Player Hall of Fame. Rocker has received numerous honors for his contributions to music and the arts, including being inducted to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and he is a recipient of the Visionary Artist Award by the City of Laguna Beach California. In his concert performances, Lee Rocker rocks every town and leaves every audience on their feet and cheering.