The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Wolfgang's Big Night Out
CD Review by Paul "Zombie" Kloiber




December 2007
T rack listing:

Take the 5th
One More Night
with You
Wolfgang's Big
Night Out
Honey Man
Yes We Can Can
Swingin' Willie
Sabre Dance
For Lisa
Here Comes
the Broad
1812 Overdrive
Some River in Europe
  Take a Break Guys

Label: Surfdog Records
Release Date:
September 25, 2007

Welcome to the new classical music. That's right, I said classical music. I know what you're thinking . . . classical music on this website??? But this isn't your father's classical. This classical isn't even classical, well not by industry standards. This is Brian Setzer's newest tangent to his already illustrious career. It's "Wolfgang's Big Night Out" and let me tell you, this classical SWINGS. Twelve songs and melodies that you have known your whole life reworked, spiced up and rocked out as only Brian Setzer could.

Opening with "Take the 5th" a jumpin' version of Beethoven's "5th Symphony," it's made abundantly clear that the music of the 1700's and 1800's is being dragged kicking, screaming and swinging into the twenty-first century. Done with complete respect to the original, it's easily recognizable and yet completely new to our ears. Next up is "One More Night With You," one of the only vocal tracks on the CD and an excellent take on Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King." With a guitar twang that grabs you and makes your feet move, this song stands out as one of the best on the CD. The title track "Wolfgang's Big Night Out," a homage to Mozart and his "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik," is full of multi-layered horns and guitar that takes this classical masterpiece to a whole other realm. It's a sweet little number made only sweeter by the next track "Honey Man." This is the second and last of the vocal tracks and it's a wild ripped-up version of "Flight of the Bumblebee." Sustained by a wicked guitar riff that will bring back memories of the "Green Hornet," this song jams fast and furious.

Swinging into a new direction, Brian takes on Offenbach's "The Can Can" with his own version entitled "Yes We Can Can." With a sweet horn sound and a smooth bass backbone, this number will stand out at his concerts (I am just praying the band members aren't in little can-can dresses - that would be scary). He even throws in a taste of purple as the song come to its conclusion. With a hearty "Hi Ho Silver" we're off and running with "Swingin' Willie," a sweetly reworked version of "The William Tell Overture." Done with style and finesse, this classic runs a slightly mellower course than the previous tracks but still manages to add its own flavor to the mix. From mellow to frantic we venture into "Saber Dance" with a rockabilly twang that leaves no doubt about its creator. Brian rips up this classical music staple and delivers a performance that would impress even his most stringent critic. Then without missing a beat he shifts gears into low and takes on "Fur Elise" now entitled "For Lisa" and shows off a slightly softer side with a beautifully orchestrated combination of classical guitar, violin and horns along with his trademark twanging Gretsch. This is definitely one of the better songs on the CD.

Many of us have friends who have gotten married and we may have even known the bride when she used to rock and roll. But did you know that bride when she used to swing? With Wagner's "Lohengrin" and Mendelssohn's "A Mid Summer Night's Dream" all rolled into one we get Brian's "Here Comes The Broad," a truly swingin' way to start any wedding off with a bang. Then once again Brian shifts gears and takes us into overdrive, the "1812 Overdrive" to be precise. This take on the classic "1812 Overture" stays true to the original score while still having a swing flare that fans of Brian and his Orchestra will love. Now as we come to the last two songs of the CD there is no need to feel blue - "Blue Danube" that is, so just sit back and enjoy "Some River In Europe," a wonderfully arranged take on this song that most everyone over the age of 25 knows and loves. Lastly, Brian takes a cue from the massive success of his two fabulous Christmas CDs and ends with a holiday flourish and tells the band to "Take A Break Guys" as he and his guitar jam their way through a boogied up, rocked out version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman."

There has never been anything like this in all the years I have been listening to music, and I will venture to say there probably never will be again. Brian Setzer is one of the most unique and supremely talented musicians I have ever heard. Coupled with his prowess and Frank Comstock's fabulous charts, this album is a one of a kind. Whether you're a fan from the 80's, 90's or present, it's easy to see why even Gibson Guitars has bestowed awards on this pompadoured guitar slinger (and considering he has his own line of Gretsch guitars is an honor in itself). His music is unorthodox, irreverent and loud, but most of all it's fun. So, for a not-so-classic take on classical music while staying true to his roots, I have to give this CD a B+ (and it only missed the A because I wanted more songs).

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