The Commander finally finds his Planet and it’s Planet Cool
I’m too young to remember Bill Kirchen’s first incarnation in Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen; but I can tell you that he has gently matured into his current position as the Elder Statesman of Americana very easily as this newly recorded ‘Greatest Hits recording will show.
Most of Bill’s peers are now either dead or retired and I can’t think of a single one who tours as much or appears to enjoy themselves playing the music they love as much as this silver haired rascal.
Enough of the history lesson; let’s get onto the music!
If I’d been involved in the release of this record I’d have named it after the opening track; Too Much Fun which is a theme that runs throughout SEEDS AND STEMS and is also a damn fine Rockabilly song, suggesting that the Titan of the Telecaster could never be accused of having ‘Too Much Fun.’
Bill and long-standing cohorts Jack O’Dell and Maurice Cridlin sound like they are having Too Much Fun on gems like the trucking songs Semi-Truck and Truck Stop (at the end of the world) which are both hilarious twang-fests and are cooler than anything that has come from Nashville’s Hat Acts in decades.
When I was wiping the tears from my eyes during the real old-school Country Trucking song – Mama Hated Diesels; I got to wondering why we don’t hear more songs about this most American of Americana subjects; perhaps Bill may get to start a trend.
My regular readers will know that I have a fixation with songs I want played at my funeral and I’ve found another here – Rockabilly Funeral; which is what it says on the tin; an ode to a man’s request for a Rockabilly Funeral – buried in his Cadillac; Sun 45 records on a Wurlitzer Jukebox and his Telecaster across his chest; sounds good to me.
It appears Bill Kirchen may or may not have dabbled in narcotics during is younger days and occasionally he name checks substances in the songs (Benny’s get a mention in Semi-Truck) so I’m pretty sure when he sings about being Down To Seeds and Stems Again he could be talking about marijuana in this song about being so down on his luck he can’t think of a way out.
For years now a staple of Bill Kirchen’s gigs has been Charlie Ryan’s Hot Rod Lincoln; which the Airmen had a Top 10 Hit with in ’72 and it’s included here in an 8 minute abbreviated version. Abbreviated you ask; well, in concert this can go on for 15 – 20 minutes as fans shout out guitarists names and Bill plays a few bars of their signature sounds and it always brings the house down. On this version he name checks guitarists as diverse as Roy Orbison, Waylon, Merle (Haggard AND Travis), Doc Watson, Fats Domino, Jimi and Iggy Pop! This guy can play his guitar in any style you choose; although I have a secret Ace up my sleeve for when I see him in July!
Old fans will love SEEDS AND STEMS because it’s more of the same (if a little bit better); and anyone buying this without hearing him before will be astounded by the versatility of his guitar playing but also his worship of Country Music.
Released UK June 21st
Released US June 18th