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Telecaster Blogging, CD of the Week

September 18, 2007

This week’s CD (as though I actually update this feature every week) is a marvelous recording by the fabulous Bill Kirchen. Never heard of him? You’ve heard his work!

You know the story of the hot rod race?

Where the Ford and the Lincoln were settin’ the pace?

That story’s true, I’m here to say,

’cause I was drivin’ that Model A.

Bill was the lead guitarist for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen back in the day. Hot Rod Lincoln is one of the truly iconic Telecaster licks in all of Telecasterdom.

His latest CD is entitled “Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods.” And just what is the hammer to which he is referring?  Why it’s the Fender Telecaster, of course! The coolest guitar known to all humanity.  Well, in my opinion anyway.

Now you might think that this album by a renowned hot-rod, full-throttle guitarist would be a wankfest, featuring songs that are mostly excuses for guitar solos.  You would be wrong.  In fact, while the album’s title song serves as an homage to the Tele and its well-known players the album is probably Kirchen’s least guitar-centric release.  The songs are incredibly well-written and serve mostly as ensemble pieces.

The influence of Nick Lowe, a longtime friend and sometime bandmate of Kirchen’s, can be felt here.  Lowe plays bass on the album, and his touch is evident from the laid-back groove of Soul Cruisin’ to the “diddy, diddy womp, bop bop a diddy diddy” backing vocals on Working Man.  In fact, Kirchen seems determined to establish himself as a real songwriter on these tunes and for the most part he succeeds.  (Maybe he tries too hard on Rocks Into Sand but that’s a matter of opinion).  Perhaps the songwriting highlight of the album, Skid Row In My Mind portrays the heartbroken blues of a divorced father who misses his kids and blames himself for his problems.

This is just good old rootsy Americana music, deeply rooted in rock, soul, country, twang and R&B.

In other Telecaster news, check this out!


That’s a (modified) 1952 Telecaster.  1952 was the first year they were called Telecasters – prior to 1951 they were called Broadcasters until Rickenbacker Gretsch threatened legal action (they owned the name Broadkaster for one of their guitars a drum set).  Fender issued “nocasters,” unnamed guitars in 1951 (they simply cut the word “broadcaster” off the Fender decal and the headstock just said “Fender.”)  Then in 1952 they called ’em Telecasters.

But this isn’t just an iconic guitar for that reason.  Nope, not at all.  This one is special because it was the first professional-quality guitar owned by some fella named Stevie Ray Vaughan.   It was given to him by his brother Jimmie Vaughan when SRV was still a teenager.  Check out Amp Show‘s website for details on where this guitar can be seen.

Keep on twangin!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2008 5:14 pm

    You just cant beat the quality of a decent old strat, they just play like a glove.

  2. BDM permalink
    April 25, 2008 7:50 am

    actually it was gretsch that had the broadcaster name on their drums…thus leading to the name change.

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