Any good rockabilly knows without a doubt that Bill Kirchen
is the undisputed king of dieselbilly rock
What some may not
know is that he has a heart, golden with country roots, that perfectly
accents his amazing telecaster virtuosity. On his newest release,
Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods, Kirchen struts not only his
amazing twang, but some of his finest songwriting. Joined by an all
star cast of musicians, including Nick Lowe (who co-produced
as well) on bass guitar and Robert Trehern on drums, this album
truly cements Kirchen's place among the elite of real country musicians.
The opening track "Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods" is a
barn-burning tribute to the greatest guitar ever built, Fender's Telecaster
and its designer, Leo Fender. Kirchen rips through some great
leads on his own '54 Tele, the same guitar that he played back with
Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen on the classic "Hot
Rod Lincoln". The guitar still packs a punch, and Bill is sounding
better than ever. On "Rocks Into Sand", Kirchen evokes the
slow balladry of the most heart-breaking of 60's country gems. The
blazing steel guitar on "Get A Little Goner" gives the song
a fine country edge, while featuring the kind of brilliantly witty
lyricism for which Bill has come to be known alongside his great guitar
playing. "If you're gonna get gone, get a little goner/ if you're
gonna move along, move on a little bit longer/ you think I want you
back, you couldn't be wronger/ go on, get a little goner." Accompanying
the tongue in cheek lyrics are some of the finest lead guitar parts
and comping to be found in modern rock/country.
"Working Man" recalls the golden era of country, having
a sincere Johnny Cash bent to the music and lyrics, along with
some fine tremolo-heavy twanging. "Soul Cruisin'" evokes
the spirit of Motown and infuses Bill's country sound with a soulful
edge that outdoes most modern soul performers. The track has all the
makings of a fine old Sam Cooke recording, only with Bill singing.
Gospel tinges and beautiful piano and harmony vocals play into the
sublime "Truth Be Told", which leads perfectly into a bluesy/Motown
rendition of the classic "Devil With The Blue Dress". Kirchen
finally lights into Texas swing with "One More Day", a bouncing
tale of life's beauty set to the tune of hopping piano and brilliant
acoustic blues guitar leads. "Heart Of Gold" gets back to
the swampy twang thing with a great rockabilly edge and an excellent
guitar solo - not for the twang-haters - and 50's style piano fire.
The album wraps with the soulful and melancholy "If It's Really
Got To Be This Way", drawing from and juxtaposing all the various
styles of the record into a heartfelt and beautiful swinging country
blues number that could bring a tear to eye.
On Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods, Bill Kirchen has not only
built upon his country foundations to prove once again his worth in
that particular field, but he has expanded his sound to include more
soul elements and much more personal lyrical content. While there
is no disputing that Kirchen is the king of dieselbilly rock, there
is also a depth to the man that shines through on these songs, really
highlighting the fact that the man is a fine songwriter who ranks
among the modern world's best.
1. Hammer Of The Honky-Tonk Gods
2. Rocks Into Sand
3. Get A Little Goner
4. Skid Row In My Mind
5. Working Man
6. Soul Cruisin'
7. Truth Be Told
8. Devil With The Blue Dress
9. One More Day
10. Heart Of Gold
11. If It's Really Got To Be This Way
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