Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone
Release New CD
by Anne Jones
Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone team up for a hands-across-the-Atlantic collection with their new studio album, Transatlanticana, just released on August 26, 2016 on Red House Records. This release unites pioneers of two major musical movements. Kirchen co-founded the original “Americana” band, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, and his trademark Telecaster licks drove their hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” into the Top 10 in 1972. De Lone dropped out of Harvard to start Eggs Over Easy—progenitors of British pub rock, the first link in the chain to punk rock, new wave and beyond. Backed by both their all-star British and American bands, Transatlanticana finds Kirchen and de Lone trading songwriting credits and lead vocals on this soulful and rocking collection.
Kirchen and de Lone cut the album in Austin and London, capturing on disc the best of their 30-year collaboration. Kirchen is Austin-based; de Lone is in the San Francisco Bay Area. But both artists have longtime ties with the UK scene. Kirchen has toured as a guitarist with Nick Lowe and put out three albums on UK label Proper Records. de Lone has toured as keyboard player for Lowe and Elvis Costello and put out his first solo album on UK label Demon Records.
They first collaborated in the mid-1970s, writing together as The Moonlighters: “We sent Nick Lowe a bunch of songs for Rockpile, but unbeknownst to us they had decided to break up,” Kirchen says.
The songs of Transatlanticana represent the core elements of Americana music – R&B, country, rock and even a gospel track.Butch Hancock duets his song “Oxblood” with Kirchen. It’s a meaty slice of Texas boogie recorded with the Austin contingent. “I guess they used to color concrete with ox blood,” says Kirchen. “I thought it was just an old shoe polish color.”
They kick this new release off with the timely “Hounds of the Bakersfield,” a tribute to the late Merle Haggard and the Bakersfield California sound.
Kirchen contributes “Wine, Wine, Wine”, quintessential Commander Cody, straight-up country sad from their first sessions in Ann Arbor ’67. “Let’s Rock” is a vintage de Lone/Kirchen co-write featuring an easy, chugging groove and de Lone’s tasteful piano work.
“Somebody’s Goin’ Home” is a Blackie Farrell/Kirchen co-write. De Lone contributes “Warm and Tender Love,” a track that showcases his deep love and understanding of rhythm and blues. It’s an understated, soulful vocal performance, intimate and personal.
Their ringing, rockified version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are A-Changin’” closes down the album with a bang, a fresh take on a song you’ve heard a thousand times, and somehow these guys infuse it with a singular power that comes from crazy talent, years spent playing together and a deep love of Dylan.
Spirited and served up with wit and humor, Transatlanticana is a gem –- a ringside seat to these transatlantic sessions by a group of like-minded, top-of-their-game players enjoying each other’s musical company.