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The Willies

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 11, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the years since Bill Frisell's celebrated NASHVILLE album - whose "stirring instrumentals evoke mercies, and dusk settling over the pines" - the guitarist has evolved a compositional voice and a playing style that has touched down in a musical territory he had long circled. Combining an earnest country flavor with a subtle jazz technique, his sound has become unmistakably American, and fueled a new level of critical acclaim and radio airplay, while doubling his sales base. THE WILLIES is a bluegrass-based project featuring Frisell on electric and acoustic guitar, Danny Barnes - from the Texas "punk-bluegrass" heroes Bad Livers - on banjo, acoustic guitar, bass harmonica, and pump organ, and Keith Lowe on bass. At a moment when American roots music has claimed a greater share of popular attention than ever before, THE WILLIES project arrives at a pointedly opportune moment.

Amazon.com

His collaborations with John Zorn, Marc Johnson, and Paul Motian have shown that guitarist Bill Frisell is no stranger to the bustle and grind of rock and bebop, but on The Willies he again prefers a gentle ramble through the byways of American folk. Joined by Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo, guitar, bass harmonica, and pump organ, and Keith Lowe on bass, Frisell wanders dreamily through a mixture of bluegrass standards and originals. The pace hovers around a stroll and the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies are generally true to the idiom. Frisell's longstanding affinity with jazz may perhaps be deduced by the occasionally dark harmonic undertow, a suggestion that all may not be well down on the farm. Those with a taste for Ry Cooder's glowering 1985 soundtrack to Paris, Texas may find happiness with The Willies. --Mark Gilbert

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sittin' On Top Of The World
  2. Cluck Old Hen
  3. Everybody Loves Everybody
  4. I Want To Go Home
  5. Single Girl, Married Girl
  6. Get Along
  7. John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man
  8. Sugar Baby
  9. Blackberry Blossom
  10. If I Could I Surely Would
  11. Clock Old Hen
  12. Cold, Cold Heart
  13. I Know You Care
  14. Goodnight Irene
  15. Big Shoe
  16. The Willies


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 11, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0000668K2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,864 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Bill Frisell Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
With Frisell on electric and acoustic guitars and in charge of looping, Danny Barnes sitting in on guitars, banjo, bass harmonica, and pump organ, and Keith Lowe anchoring the bass parts The Willies covers a range of bluegrass tinged jazz. This isn't new grass or Bela Fleck Acoustic Planet territory--the neighborhood here is more firmly jazz or Frisell's own--so don't expect hoe downs or classic break downs. What you do get is excellent explorations of tunes including traditional classics(Blackberry Blossom, Sitting on Top of the World), tasty instrumental covers (Goodnight Irene), and Frisell originals.
I think they sound like they're having fun, and the listening is very enjoyable. Good stuff.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bill Frisell is a musical chameleon. Every album he makes seems to be so different than the last. "The Willies" is a wonderful album full of soulful guitar, bass, and banjo. I, personally, have 11 of Bill's albums, and this one is currently getting the heaviest rotation in the cd player. What I love about this album is not only the fact that it's bluegrass with dark overtones, but it's got a really amazing feel to it. It's a very cohesive album. In my opinion, there isn't a bad song on this album. I really love "Everybody Loves Everybody." That song alone is worth the price of the album. Some of my other favorites are "Blackberry Blossom," "Get Along," "Sittin' on Top of the World," and "John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man." But as I said, the whole album is very good. The thing that attracts me to Bill Frisell's music is it's subtlety and dark, textural beauty. This is an album that a fan of jazz, bluegrass, or rock would enjoy. Yeah, there's nothing that gets your feet or body going, but so what! This album is strictly for open-minded music lovers. If you are a patient person then this album will be very rewarding, but if you think everything has to get your feet going, then you shouldn't even bother with this album or any other Frisell album for that matter. Another thing I want to point out is that Bill Frisell is not a shredder. He's more into the textural side of guitar playing like David Torn, Andy Summers, Steve Tibbets, and King Crimson's Robert Fripp. All of these guitar players have the technical ability, but they don't feel the need to show that side of their playing too often. This album should appeal to those already familiar with Bill's work or any person who has an ear for intricately arranged music.
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Format: Audio CD
Frisell continues to explore American music with this excellent CD. I hear sort of a fusion of Blues Dream with Good Dog, Happy Man, minus percussion. I was somewhat apprehensive about the lack of drums. Jim Keltner's work on Good Dog is so nice, meshing with Frisell's style. Yes, it's laid back. But it's real good.
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By A Customer on June 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
If you really enjoyed the Americana ramblings of the Nashville CD you will like this project a lot too. The banjo work seems to compliment nicely Frisell's unique guitar style. Frisell's original pieces fit right in with the traditional fiddle tunes. Like a previous reviewer mentioned...they are not flatpicked at super sonic speed, but slowed down and nicely done. It really is a good CD. Thanks again Bill!
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Format: Audio CD
On his 2002 Nonesuch outing, guitarist Frisell joins forces with multi-instrumentalist Danny Barnes (banjo, acoustic guitar, bass harmonica, pump organ) and bassist Keith Lowe. The music is mostly by Frisell, but there are also covers of songs such as "Sitting on Top of the World" and "Goodnight Irene." The overall sound is something like Frisell's Nashville, but The Willies is a little more on the folksy side, and there are no vocals this time around, just instrumentals.

Overall, the music on The Willies seems a bit restrained, but never dull. This is music that grows on you more the more you listen to it. Nothing flashy, just quality music-making that makes its points without pretense. If you have enjoyed Frisell's previous "Americana" albums, you will enjoy this one; if you have not yet auditioned Frisell's work in this genre, I would recommend Nashville and Good Dog, Happy Man, both of which are outstanding, as the best places to start. If you enjoy those recordings, this new one will be a welcome addition to your collection.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD is worth it for those 3 songs, and those are all Frisell originals. This guy can write insanely great songs in so many genres. Unfortunately, he leads the album off with a lot of traditional stuff, and that's what samples are available here, but his originals are all better than the traditional old-timey. I agree with another reviewer that said this is like Blues Dream fused with something else. Frisell's output just the last 5 or 6 years, you can put it up against anyone's. Danny Barnes banjo is a revelation. Cold Cold Heart was a little too vanilla, but Frisell always puts so many songs on his albums that you don't notice the clunkers as much. I have about a dozen Frisell, including his work with Ginger Baker & Kenny Wheeler, and yet this is the CD that's currently getting the heaviest rotation. Frisell keeps topping himself. Loved the laid-back Blackberry Blossom. This album is awesome.
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Format: Audio CD
This a great CD - easy going, yet compelling. This one is more in-line with his Nashville CD (recommended) but is a bit more traditional. Like all of his CD's, the songs are the key. Whether they are covers of Carter family standards (Single Girl, Married Girl) or any of the originals, they have that dark, mysterious, eery, and beautiful quality that Bill Frisell always manages to capture. I have loved Bill Frisell for years - but recently discovered Danny Barnes - who is, like Frisell, an incredibly gifted musician. Dig his guitar solo on Cluck Old Hen, (reprise). The guy is a killer companion to Bill Frisell. Serious chops.
If you don't like the banjo - open your ears... the guy can play!
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