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Rockabilly icon Brian Setzer shares second single from forthcoming solo album

Brian Setzer's first solo album in seven years, Gotta Have The Rumble, is out on 27 August via Surf Dog records, and ahead of the release the rockabilly superstar has shared a second single – the surf rock-inspired Smash Up On Highway One.

While the vocal is unmistakable, likewise an electric guitar tone that's pure 1950s rock 'n' roll twang, Smash Up On Highway One is a change of pace for Setzer, switching up up his rockabilly playbook to incorporate a cool guitar motif that references Dick Dale and the surf rock sound he pioneered.

“I was playing Misirlou by Dick Dale with the Stray Cats, and I thought, ‘wow I’d love to write something as cool as that riff,’“ says Setzer. “So I came up with something out of left field. I don’t know what you would call it – Middle Eastern or Eastern-European. Some college professor probably has a name for that scale. I had that riff laying around.“

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Without wanting to sound like a college professor, that does sound like Setzer's riff incorporates elements of a double harmonic major scale, just as Dale did on Miserlou. But given that surf rock was really rockabilly by the sea with fresh twist, it's no surprise to hear it work so well with Setzer's sound.

“I think it’s really cool – it’s a way to move the whole rockabilly genre forward. The surf drum part in there with the guy playing the tom-toms similar to Wipeout. I love it.”

Gotta Have The Rumble is produced by Julian Raymon (Cheap Trick), was recorded in Sezter's home town Minneapolis and in Nashville, and features 10 tracks all written or cowritten by Setzer, with the lyrics to Smash Up On Highway One written by Mike Himelstein. 

The album is out on streaming platforms and CD on 27 August, with a vinyl release scheduled soon after. See Brian Setzer for more details.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005 and is a regular contributor to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World.