Bill Frisell: Before We Were Born
I’m crazy about Bill Frisell – his songwriting, guitar playing – not sure there’s another like him. Before We Were Born was released in 1989, and is one of the first records of his I owned. During this period he was still making what I’ll call edgier music, before moving more toward the folk inspired tunes.
This is an eclectic mix of tracks, ranging from the hectic, cinematic and far-reaching epic, Hard Plains Drifter or: as I take my last breath and the noose grows tight, the incredible events of the past three days flash before my eyes (arranged by John Zorn), to the fractured and quirky mood of Steady Girl. However, and this is one reason he is my favorite guitar player, there was always beauty and melody to be found. Songs linger amidst the darkness – I am drawn to this contrast of darkness and light.
The band is fantastic: Kermit Driscoll on bass, Joey Baron on drums, Arto Lindsay on guitars, Peter Scherer on keyboards and Hank Roberts on cello. Some others lend on hand on Some Song and Dance and The Lone Ranger. The latter is like some soundtrack to The Dark Tower, and has long been my favorite track.
I stumbled on this notched demo copy in a bookstore years ago. I don’t think a stylus had ever touched it. Lovely. The recording is clean. Perhaps clinical is a more apt description. Maybe this was a late 80’s digital recording. It’s spacious and dynamic, though harsh in the treble range – the cymbals will cut you. Don’t let that scare you away from a great listen.