Published On: Fri, Oct 6th, 2017

Album Review: Chris Hillman – Bidin’ My Time

Byrds co-founder ends long silence with old and new inspiration.


Hillman

The vital role Chris Hillman played in the advancement of country-rock, as co-founder of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band, is never shouted as loudly as it should be.

This aptly-titled first solo album in a dozen years must and will redress that balance. Its headline news lies in the partial Byrds reunion that sees contributions from both David Crosby and Roger McGuinn.

Tom Petty produces with his career- long devotion to the sound Hillman helped create, while all of the Heartbreakers join three Desert Rose-rs and other notables take part. The full-circle feeling is heightened by the juxtaposition of highly credible new material and several old favourites of Byrdsian lore.

Those help shape the mood from the get-go, as Hillman remakes the much-covered Pete Seeger co-write The Bells of Rhymney, part of the Byrds’ debut album all of 52 years ago. It was always Hillman’s favourite of their recordings, and the new version puts a coat of varnish on it without damaging what’s underneath.

Throughout, Petty has Hillman’s voice, with its similarities to Crosby’s, confidently prominent in the mix; Crosby himself and executive producer Herb Pedersen provide glorious harmonies.

New songs such as the title track, Different Rivers and Restless are welcome additions to Hillman’s legacy, the latter number carrying an undeniable sense of him reviewing his life.

His little-heard co-write with McGuinn, Here She Comes Again, is so 60s-pop that it sounds like the pair are reliving their youth, and has Hillman playing his long-overlooked bass.

Hillman dials back even further for an affectionate pass at the Everly Brothers’ Walk Right Back, which sports a nice acoustic solo, and the album finishes with a nod to Petty at his most bucolic, on Wildflowers. The palpable spirit, and a new, extensive North American tour, are welcome confirmation that Chris Hillman is through biding his time.

4/5
STANDOUT TRACKS:
Different Rivers, Restless, The Bells Of Rhymney

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