Bill Kirchen – Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods
Vail CO, Colorado
Bill Kirchen is no small name in the music industry.
The chance you haven’t heard his big hit that he co-wrote while he was playing with Commander Cody is unlikely.
Chances are you don’t remember him having anything to do with writing “Hot Rod Lincoln”, and chances are even greater that you haven’t heard of him since. Well, he didn’t disappear, he’s been touring and putting out his own material for years, and most recently he released “Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods”.
Well, this album neither puts the hammer down nor puts Kirchen up there with anyone respected in honky-tonk, but it does have something else.
Kirchen might be one of the few men out there who is releasing country laced albums that sound as if they are from the 50’s and soft rock. The album is filled slow melodies, a cover of “Devil in a Blue Dress”, and he even goes ahead and gets back up singers to chant “diddie diddie wop wop wop a diddie” on the album.
Truth be told, this is what he is probably most proud of, really though it is just about all that should have been left off the album.
The second track, “Rocks Into Sand” drops a folksy, organ featuring semi-psychedelic riff with a sturdy steel guitar presence, and really makes me proud to be on the side of evolution. It is “Soul Cruisin'”, “Working Man”, and a few other songs like that which make it hard to take this man very seriously, as he sounds very similar to a cartoon version of someone who actually sings honky-tonk music.
This is not to say that this man is incapable of singing real country music, he just doesn’t do it that often, but when he does, he shines.
“Get A Little Goner”, the third track on the album is honky-tonk genius. Thor himself, or whoever the other hammer wielding God of honky-tonk might be certainly aimed straight and true with the lightning to this one which prefers a simple guitar line as to not take away from the truly country lyrics.
Anyone who can not only write their own music and play a song like this after writing it deserves a good amount of respect in my book. Even Merle Haggard would be hard pressed to come up with “if you’re gonna get gone, get a little goner/ if you’re gonna move along, move a little bit longer/ you think I’d want you back/ oh, you couldn’t be wronger.” Now, if he could just get someone to give him a heads up as to what he should get a little goner on his next album, we might be getting somewhere.
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