The Moonlighters

The Missing Moonlighters: Live/Studio Closet Tapes

Guitarist Bill Kirchen performs at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room Sun., March 30, at 7:30 p.m.

In 1976 Commander Cody stepped away from the controls of his Lost Planet Airmen briefly but soon returned to rev them up again. During Cody’s absence his Airmen formed The Moonlighters, and continued in pretty much the same vein (what they called “Rhythm and Western”). This two-disc package was recorded in the late ’70s through the mid-’80s, and features their visceral (the “Live” tracks) and cerebral (the “Studio Closet Tapes”) approaches. The live disc captures them in a super-revved-up mode, especially the seven numbers recorded at one of KFAT’s “Fat Frys” held in the Saddlerack, a gigantic country dance hall in San Jose. Highlights include Chuck Berry’s “Oh, What a Thrill” (fine solos by guitarist Bill Kirchen and Austin deLone on organ); bassist Tim Eschliman’s New Orleans’-flavored “Flat Tiyo”; “Sittin’ on Top of the World” (with Kirchen on trombone!) and “Ubangi Stomp,” the band’s “traditional rave-up set closer.” Disc two features Kirchen in their four-man “skinny tie” mode working on new material with deLone’s hot boogie, “All Tore Up,” the stand-out track.