Rev. Billy C. Wirtz review…December 17, 2016…

REV. BILLY C. WIRTZ

FULL CIRCLE

ELLERSOUL RECORDS  ELL 1609

TOO OLD–SMOKIE PART 2–ONE POINT FIVE–MAMA WAS A DEADHEAD–ROCKIN’ UP TO GLORYLAND–YOUR LAST GOODBYE–DADDY PASSED AWAY–BREAKUP–WHO DAT? (THE REV’S THEME)–I’M A SENIOR–DADDY WAS A SENSITIVE MAN–WINE SPO-DEE-O-DEE–MENNONITE SURF PARTY–THE HAND OF THE ALMIGHTY–REPRISE (SMOKIE 2.5)

We’ve been fans of Rev. Billy C. Wirtz for as long as we can remember.  His wit, wisdom, and “preaching of the gospel of rock and roll” is built around his mighty left hand that drives that boogie-woogie piano, in the time-honored traditions of his main influences, Albert Luandrew, (go Google him, if you MUST), and the ol’ Killer hisself.  His over-the-top, bombastic vocals draw you in to this  man who’s part fire-and-brimstone preacher and part carnival barker, and his original songs are as funny as hell.  Such is the case on his latest album for EllerSoul Records, “Full Circle.”  Billy’s all over the 88’s and vocals, with Bob Driver on guitar and vocals, Steve Riggs on bass, and Li’l Ronnie Owens on the harp.  Also joining in on the fun are special guests The Nighthawks on several cuts.

We said Billy is a helluva pianist, and he rocks thru several piano-driven classics, from Bill Black’s “Smokie,” and a couple of Sun-ripened gems, Charlie Rich’s “Breakup,” and a, well, “killer” version of “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee,” with harp from Li’l Ronnie.  But, Billy’s at his best on his raucous, bawdy originals.  Check out the leadoff cut, which has Billy consigned to the fact that he’s  “Too Old to rock and roll, but just right to sing the blues!”  A song he got the idea for from a waitress at a diner is the hilarious “Daddy Passed Away–and mama turned gay,” dealing with “pitchin’ for the other team!”  And, FCC regulations be damned, Billy warns us all in no uncertain terms what’ll happen if you don’t obey “The Hand Of The Almighty,” this one with backing from The Nighthawks.

Our favorite was easy.  It’s one of Billy’s earliest-written songs, and one of his most well-liked.  Yes, “Mama Was A Deadhead” name-checks everything from “tie-Dyed Pampers” to  “Dark Star” to naming your child  “Casey Jones!”

He’s been deep-fried and sanctified, he’s been known to get it on with the “Teenie Weenie Meanies” on the lady midget rasslin’ circuit, and the things he used to do all night now take him all night to do.  Yep–you might say the REv. Billy C. Wirtz has come “Full Circle!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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