Mix Six: “Neo Swing, Baby”

Written by Mix Six, Music

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There was a moment in the mid to late ’90s when I passed an invisible line from young adulthood — where you crave new and exciting things and your mind is generally open to cultural changes — to adulthood, where more staid things like parenthood, owning a home and, alas, feeling like you’re just culturally out of it tend to creep in.  And so it goes with the neo-swing revival of the ’90s –well as far as yours truly is concerned.  By the time this type of music became popular again, I was in that latter category where the excitement of dressing up in a zoot suit and learning some new dance steps sounded fun, but my energy level for such things was pretty much nil as my wife and I were raising our daughter and, it seemed, the most culturally connected to new music came when I could sit in a rocking chair with my toddler and watch the VH1 Top 20 Countdown.  Flash forward 10 years and what do we have?  A Mix Six, naturally!

“Rock This Town,” the Brian Setzer Orchestra (download)

Brian Setzer was clearly born at the wrong time, and has been trying very hard to take us back where he belongs. First to the ’50s, and then when the swing revival started to ascend, he reverted back even farther and, at least for the time being, has found his niche.  This version of “Rock This Town” certainly rocks, er, swings with some really smokin’ guitar work The Quaffed One.”

“Hey Pachuco!,” Royal Crown Revue (download)

Gin martinis, anyone?  If there was one band that’s responsible for the popularity of neo-swing, it’s the music of Royal Crown Revue — without any hint of irony.  And I gotta say, from the perspective of a drummer, Daniel Glass is really rippin’ it up on the drum on this tune.  If this song doesn’t make you want to dance, then I weep for your sorry ass.

One Hour Mama,” Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers (download)

Lavay Smith, like many of the performers featured here, comes from Southern California where, it is often said, there is no culture.  Not so!  Just one listen to one of Lavay’s albums and you’ll hear a wonderfully seasoned sound that begs for repeated listens.

“Baby Wants a Diamond Ring,” Squirrel Nut Zippers (download)

These cats have been a favorite of mine since I first saw the video to “Hell.” Refreshing doesn’t even begin to describe how much I liked their music.  Like a dutiful fan, I kept buying their albums when released only to grow more disappointed by the quality of the output.  It seemed like the Zippers were slipping into a laconic haze until they released Bedlam Ballroom.

“Mr. Pinstripe Suit,” Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (download)

This is one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head — but in a good way.  It’s probably one of the Daddy’s most popular tunes, and I had the good fortune of seeing them play live in the Spring — and they didn’t disappoint when it came to “Mr. Pinstripe Suit.”  It was at the infamous Great American Food and Music Festival in Mountain View, CA, and while the lines were long for the food (A three-hour wait for a hot dog), the concert venue was pretty much empty. But even with the smattering of people waiting to be entertained, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played like they had a sold out crowd in front of them.

“Since I Fell For You,” Lily Wilde (download)

Can I confess something?  The first time I heard this song wasn’t when it was featured on “Moonlighting,” but when my girlfriend (now my wife) had the Bob James and David Sanborn cassette, Double Vision. Popdose staff favorite Al Jarreau (download) sang his Jarreau out on his cover, while Lily Wilde does a more boozy version featured here.

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