Chris Hillman

Bidin’ My Time

(Rounder Records)

Produced by the late Tom Petty, no less, this collection finds the Byrd and Burritos etc star looking backwards, forwards and sideways. Hillman is an established musician and singer of supreme quality. One listen to his heady basslines on The Byrds’ track Everybody’s Been Burned on Younger Than Yesterday will demonstrate this. It enables Roger McGuinn to turn in a winsome solo with gently jagged cadences on the electric 12-string. Everyone – including messrs Stills, Souther, Furay, Parsons – who plays with this artist is or has their music enriched. Whatever he does on a song seems to make it swing which puts him on a par with the late Andy Fraser or Alphonse Mouzon, in Chris’ field. Which is wide! He is certainly someone I would like to meet and talk to. Did I mention Renaissance Fair?

Originally a cut on that very first black-cover Columbia/CBS Byrds album Mr Tambourine Man, the song Bells Of Rhymney celebrates church chimes in several locations. Here, we hear a gentler version of the tune, with Crosby singing along. Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and drummer Steve Ferrone are aboard, too. John Jurgenson can be heard on acoustic and electric 12-string guitar. It’s a lovely rendition but I prefer the strident melodic attack of The Byrds’ recording.

Bidin’ My Time is a Hillman original and reeks of The Appalachians, all fresh air and relaxed feel. A very catchy song, Wilburys fans will dig this. Jay Dee Maness plays pedal steel, with Chris on mandolin. Given All I Can See finds Tom Petty on harp and is very John Prine in its steady roll. Excellent singing in an ace key for Hillman. Only needs Jackson Browne joining in! On to Different Rivers which is a sweet country ballad with a predicable chord progression. If you can’t relax to this, there is a need for much medication, I venture…

Here She Comes Again benefits from RickMeister Roger McGuinn, a harder beat and fuller sense of direction AND – not before time – Hillman on that distinctive electric bass ! Petty plays guitar in the band. An absolute winner, friends. As the bass runs at the end confim. Walk Right Back is immediately familiar, it is the old Everly Brothers song, played straight. A nice listen,but nothing new is brought to the table. Chris must like the song and I guess that is enough. Neat acoustic guitar break. Such Is The World That We Live In is a new Hillman song and again a pleasant listen. When I Get A Little Money comes from the pen of Nathan Barrow and here a sprightly folky number, real back porch stuff. Not a huge distance from the works of Jimmy Buffett, really. She Don’t Care About Time nods to its composer the late great Gene Clark. It’s played close to The Byrds edition of the song but adds nothing to that master work. The classically-influenced McGuinn guitar break is emulated. Another classic Byrds work in the shape of New Old John Robertson is next. It sounds here a tad more elemental but that stunning phasing on the Byrds cut made it. It does remains a charming tale of an eccentric and the fluid fiddle sounds fine.

Restless has Mike Campbell on electric guitar, joining other Heartbreakers on a country waltz and one of several co-writes with Steve Hill. Closing cut is Petty’s own Wildflowers nimbly performed in a country vein.

All in all a very listenable country-styled set of songs performed by a crew good enough to let them breathe. I am willing to wait for a rockier record please, with much more Hillman electric bass. (You don’t ask, you don’t get!)

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks Glenn for this disc)

Chris Hillman’s new album ‘Bidin’ My Time’ is out now on Rounder Records. For more information visit his official website here:

Chris Hillman