Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rev. Billy C. Wirtz - Full Circle

2016 –  EllerSoul Records
By Phillip Smith; Nov. 6, 2016

I’ve been a fan of the good Reverend Billy C. Wirtz since around 1990.  My first exposure to his music was either from my Sunday night ritual of tuning in to Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio, or was from listening to WEGR, Memphis’ Rock 103 on my thirty minute morning commute.  Wirtz’s music was getting a lot of airplay on both.  It didn’t take long before I was hooked and purchased Wirtz’s wonderfully wicked album, Backslider’s Tractor Pull, which featured hilariously twisted songs such as “Sleeper Hold on Satan”, “Just Friends”, and “Honky Tonk Hermaphrodite”. 

Recorded live from the First House of Polyester Worship Full Circle is a brand new tasty dish of humorous off-the-wall songs performed by Wirtz on piano, and fried up with a heaping helping of swinging back-up from legendary blues greats, The Nighthawks (Paul Bell – guitar, Johnny Castle – bass, Mark Stutso – drums, and Mark Wenner – harmonica)., Other players featured on the album include guitarist Bob Driver, bassist Steve Riggs, and Lil’ Ronnie Owens on harp.
Wirtz takes a satirical tongue-in-cheek jab at The Grateful Dead and its diehard community with “Mama Was a Deadhead”.  He then takes country music to a whole new planet with the hilarious “Daddy Was a Sensitive Man”, about a channeling, Volvo-driving, drum-circle fanatic who makes his living at the futon shop, and longs for quality time with his family.  While on the subject of family matters, Wirtz hits another homerun with a ditty based on a true story, as told to him by a waitress at a diner he often visited.  Her father had passed away, and her step mother ran off with her favorite girlfriend, “Daddy Passed Away” and mama turned gay. 

On the serious side of the album, Wirtz and The Nighthawks rip it up on a smashing rendition of Charlie Rich’s “Breakup”.  This is rockabilly goodness at its best.  In addition, Brother Billy serves up a couple of cool instrumentals, showcasing his piano prowess on the 1959 Bill Black Combo hit, “Smokie Part 2”, and dishing out a smooth and velvety cover of Floyd Cramer’s, “Your Last Goodbye”.     

Wirtz scores with Full Circle. The combination of Reverend Billy and The Nighthawks makes for such a terrific listen.    It takes me back to the carefree days of being glued to the radio on Sunday nights listening to Dr. Demento.


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