REVIEW – BILL KIRCHEN & AUSTIN DE LONE
Bill Kirchen & Austin de Lone – Transatlanticana (Proper Records)
Genre – Country rock / Americana / blues rock / rock and roll
Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone have led incredible careers spanning five decades, and for the first time the pioneers of two major musical movements, can be heard on record after decades of playing together.
Like many genre pioneers, Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone are often underappreciated by fans for their work within music and the vast scale of their recordings. Bill is widely credited with forming the original Americana band, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, while Austin’s early 70s act The Eggs are acknowledged as the progenitor of British Pub Rock – the first link in the chain to punk rock, new wave and beyond.
Throughout their careers, the pair have seen their musical paths cross over on numerous occasions, most notably with The Moonlighters in 1977. Along the way, de Lone has played piano on many of Kirchen’s solo albums, however Transatlanticana is the first time the pair have recorded as a duo.
Opening with Hounds of Bakersfield, the pair show their musical pedigree with a lively, upbeat tempo that’s deeply rooted in the Bakersfield sound pioneered by Merle Haggard and Buck Owens in the 50s. Kirchen’s ‘trademark Telecaster licks’ are as sharply honed as ever, with de Lone’s piano offering a perfect accompaniment to one of the original honky-tonk masters.
Transatlanticana sees the pair share writing duties, with a mix of originals and covers throughout, including a fascinating rockabilly cover of Butch Hancock’s Oxblood, that sees the man himself perform backing vocals.
Let’s Rock, as the title suggests, is as old school rock and roll as you get. Filled with dirty blues rhythms and droning vocals, Let’s Rock sees Kirchen and de Lone deliver a Chuck Berry inspired 50s masterclass, that matched equally in style and substance.
Despite recording as a ‘duo’ for the first time, Transatlanticana is a real family themed album, with de Lone’s daughter co-writing Already Walking, while Kirchen’s wife got in on the act with her contribution to the moody ballad Back In The Day.
Transatlanticana is a unique album in the sense it will excite fans from all genres, due to the seeming lack of concept. This is an album created by two music greats, who just love playing. With a mix of rockabilly, blues rock, country rock and Americana on show, this is more of a compilation than a traditional album, but don’t take anything away from it – it’s a class act all round.
RUSHONROCK RATED 7.5/10 Warm and soulful, with licks so sharp they could cut you!
Northumbria University Journalism graduate, rock and roll enthusiast and co-editor of RUSHONROCK.com.