Bill Staines - October's Hill

October's Hill

Bill Staines

RHR CD 139

Red House Records
P.O.Box 4044
St. Paul MN 55104

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

This is Staines' twenty-second release. His music has been labeled instant classic, timeless, great, genial. So many superlatives have been used to describe this music over the years by critics and artists alike, that I find it hard to add anything to a review of a new Staines CD. October's Hill is as good as any of the other ten recordings I have by Staines. This means that this is another great, timeless and unique CD. It is forty minutes of pure joy; forty minutes that are a spiritual journey, and not only a musical experience. Staines, in an interview with Performing Songwriter, said that when the call comes he is ready to go. By this he meant that he is ready to leave this world, feeling he has fullfilled his work on the planet. There is a very strong feeling in his music, that Staines is a man who is one with himself, and a man who has filled his time with a spiritual search. It is clear that he has found peace within his music and his world.

There are six original Staines songs in October's Hill and six covers. He even covers a song from 1848, All Things Bright And Beautiful, making it his own. His trademark vocals, as well as his arrangements makes a mega-hit like Games People Play a new Staines song. It's different than any version you've heard before. This is also true of Rod McKuen's Love's Been Good To Me. But, in spite of Staines being a great performer, I prefer his own compositions, and wish he had more new songs here.
The music is very acoustic, with violins and violas, cellos, acoustic guitars and piano. There are very few percussion instruments. The recording has a real folk sound. It's not trying to be modern or up to date, and therefore has a timeless quality about it. It also means that there is no 'end date' at the other side of the package.

I wonder if there is a chance that, if you are reading this review, you still don't have at least one of Staines' CD's. In that case, start with October's Hill or with his two compilations The First Million Miles, volumes one and two.

I'll leave you here to listen to the music with a quotation from Staines' song Dear Friend:

Dear Friend, oh, your voice
it calls me above the wind,
That wild and restless wind
that haunts me now and then,
And you carry me along so I answer
with a song, my friend.

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz

Copyright 2000, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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