Telecaster Master Bill Kirchen’s Word to the Wise Out May 25
“Hot Rod” Commander Cody guitarist duets with Costello, Lowe, others
Kirchen with his ever-present 1959 Telecaster (above) and the cover of Word to the Wise (below).
Photo by Ian Gittler
Bill Kirchen, perennially known as the wily guitarist whose fleet-fingered Telecaster® guitar chops supercharged 1972 hit cover “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, is back in fine form with new solo album Word to the Wise. Out on May 25, the disc is an 11-song magnum opus of rock ‘n’ roll, country, boogie-woogie and western swing, which is to say that it’s pure Kirchen from first note to last.
Kirchen has enjoyed a long career as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, and many of the artists he’s met and worked with along the way join him on Word to the Wise. The man knows a few good singers—as evidenced by duets with Elvis Costello (“Man in the Bottom of the Well”), Maria Muldaur (“Ain’t Got Time For the Blues”), Dan Hicks (“Word to the Wise”) and Asleep at the Wheel’s Chris O’Connell (on Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wives”).
Elsewhere on Word to the Wise, other old friends join Kirchen; these include Nick Lowe and Paul Carrack (“Shelly’s Winter Love”), late Steve Miller Band and onetime Lost Planet Airmen harmonica player Norton Buffalo (“Valley of the Moon”) and George “Commander Cody” Frayne himself on piano (“I Don’t Work That Cheap”).
An additional song featuring Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen will be made available as an exclusive bonus track.
“I wanted to do an album with people I share a musical connection with,” Kirchen said. “I’ve worked with all of these people. I recorded with Nick Lowe. I’ve gigged with Elvis Costello, and with Maria Muldaur and Dan Hicks back in the day.”
Recorded in London, Word to the Wise shows Kirchen full of, as always, plenty of the humor and dexterous Telecaster twang that made Vintage Guitar Magazine refer to him as “an American treasure.”
Kirchen is often billed as the “Titan of the Telecaster” and the guitar world’s premier exponent of “diesel-billy,” a term that denotes infusing rockabilly, blues, country, boogie-woogie and western swing guitar music with thematic elements from the world of truck driving.