Released today in 1983: (She’s) Sexy And 17

Arista SCAT6

Arista SCAT6

One of the main claims to fame that rockabilly revivalists Stray Cats have is that one of their songs, Rock This Town, was selected by the by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be included in its permanent exhibit of the ‘500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll’. It seems to me that both the song and the group were influenced by, rather than influencing, the early years of rock and roll, but there we are. An American outfit, they came to Britain in the 1980s because of the interest in their preferred musical genre emerging here at the time. The rocker/Teddy Boy scene in the 1970s had produced such acts as Showaddywaddy, a group also active throughout the 1980s but commercially less successful in the latter decade; they had a string of Top 10 hits in the second half of the 70s but were in decline in the first couple of years of the 1980s, ironically just as interest in the subgenre of rockabilly started to pick up. They last charted in 1982, but which time a number of new names were appearing in the charts.

Matchbox, who had been active longer than Showaddywaddy but without troubling the charts, had their first hit Rockabilly Rebel in 1979 and then had four Top 40 singles in 1980. (They later teamed up with Kirsty MacColl for a single in 1983.) Shakin’ Stevens, a contemporary of Showaddywaddy and Matchbox who had released his first single ten years earlier, also began his chart career in 1980. The Polecats were the first signing to specialist rockabilly independent record company, Nervous, at around the same time, and they enjoyed a handful of hits when they jumped ship to a major label in 1981. That was the year Coast To Coast’s (Do) The Hucklebuck made the Top 10, and Stray Cats enjoyed their most commercially successful period. (She’s) Sexy and 17 was a kind of comeback record for them, as they released no new singles during 1982 and were absent from the charts for well over eighteen months. It only made the lower reaches of the UK Top 40, but was a Top 10 hit in the US shortly before they split up. In the same year as (She’s) Sexy and 17, the rockabilly baton was passed on to Roman Holliday, who combined elements from other genres to make their debut album Cookin’ On The Roof a hit; they soon disappeared from the charts. The only one of all the acts listed in this article to sustain a chart career throughout the 1980s was Shaky, but he was more influenced by the rock’n’roll of Elvis Presley than he was by rockabilly.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jul. 29
HAIRCUT 100 Prime Time (Polydor HC1)
STRAY CATS She’s Sexy And 17 (Arista SCAT6)


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