PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Chris Hillman: Bidin' My Time

Photo courtesy of artist

The former Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers member revisits classic musical pathways on the sturdy Americana release Bidin’ My Time, his first effort in more than ten years.


Chris Hillman

Bidin’ My Time

Label: Rounder
US Release Date: 2017-09-22
UK Release Date: 2017-09-22
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Over his long and remarkable career, the modest roots musician Chris Hillman mostly has blended into whatever ensemble he joined. His face was one of many that decked the covers of the Byrds’ The Notorious Byrd Brothers, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace of Sin, and Stephen Stills’ Manassas.

Hillman eased into each of those projects, playing a pivotal role each time, but rarely sticking out. Even his 1980s foray into mainstream country was done not through his moniker but under the auspices of the Desert Rose Band. Given his understated, working-man nature, his is hardly a household name, except perhaps only to the geekiest of rock obsessive. And he has embraced that.

“I’ve had a great life,” Hillman said during a 2009 talk at the Library of Congress. “I didn’t want to be Bruce Springsteen. I didn’t want to be the king of the mountain. I wanted to play music, and it just happened, and it just developed, and I learned as I went along.”

On Bidin’ My Time, his first solo effort in more than ten years, Hillman appears out front in concept and art. True to form, however, is the album’s all-star composition, in which multiple rock and roots titans come together to support this Americana pioneer. Those names include Roger McGuinn and David Crosby of the Byrds, Herb Pedersen of the Desert Rose Band, and Tom Petty, who produced the record.

Bidin’ My Time respectfully covers the many genre forays of Hillman’s career, as well as notable influences. “Walk Right Back” is indebted to the Everly Brothers, with gentle melodies that recall Don and Phil in their heyday. Elsewhere, Hillman delivers a pristine take of “Bells of Rhymney”, a Pete Seeger song featured on the Byrds’ debut LP, Mr. Tambourine Man.

The album standout is a cover of Petty’s “Wildflowers”. The original was the title-track highlight of Petty’s finest mid-career achievement. Hillman’s version features a light bluegrass treatment and is buoyant through simplicity. Here, and only here, he recalls the joyful front-porch picking of his landmark 1982 Sugar Hill release Morning Sky.

Hillman remains grounded on his Byrds-inspired, jingle-jangle tracks like “She Don’t Care About Time”. The guitars chime in a way that harkens back to Turn! Turn! Turn!. On “Here She Comes Again”, Hillman and his backing band surge forward with a power-pop pacing.

As a package, Bidin’ My Time lacks cohesion. It is often as if Hillman is spinning a giant wheel to see what subgenre he should veer toward next. Although he has played in all of these spaces before, this approach can be somewhat off-putting in practice. The listener yearns for a singular statement.

Still, Bidin’ My Time finds this affable team player demonstrating that he deserves to be known to more than just the crate diggers. Hillman’s talent remains at high levels, even as he still lacks the widespread credit he so rightly deserves.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.