Chris Hillman

Chris Hillman

Chris Hillman

The Asylum Years

Omnivore Recordings

Chris Hillman, despite being one of the most pivotal musicians of his time, is a rather unsung hero. Just look at his resume. After his first band, the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers (which included future Eagles founder Bernie Leadon) he joined the bluegrass group Golden State Boys with Vern Gosdin. When that collapsed, Hillman was ready to give music up entirely and return to school at UCLA.

Until Roger McGuinn stepped in, and offered Hillman a slot in his new band…The Byrds. The rest, as they say, is history. Huge history. After contributing to the classic Sweethearts of the Rodeo, which laid the foundations of “country rock” and of course Gram Parsons, Hillman left the band after six records and joined Parsons in forming The Flying Burrito Brothers and recorded The Glided Palace of Sin in 1969. From the FBB he left and took up with Stephen Stills in Manassas, and by the ’80s, formed Desert Rose Band.

In the mid to late ’70s he released two solo records, collected here as The Asylum Years. The pair, 1976s Slippin’ Away and Clear Sailin’ from 1977, aren’t the groundbreaking work he contributed to in the Byrds or with Parsons, but together, they show Hillman’s path forward to his 1980s band, Desert Rose Band. Slippin’ Away, recorded in Los Angeles with notables from Hillman’s past efforts including Al Perkins and Rick Roberts from the FBB is a pretty standard ’70s rock album. Smooth cuts such as “Step on Out” and the title cut are rather run of the mill, but moments such as “Take It On The Run” – a rowdy country-rocker that would have been a great lost Byrds cut, rise above. Clear Sailin’, with Richard Marx on guitar (?), sounds a bit too L.A., despite songs such as Danny O’Keefe’s “Quits”, overall it comes off as Fleetwood Mac-lite, without that groups sense of emotional peril.

Still, having two works from a legendary country musician that before had been relatively hard to find is great news, and long-time fans will be delighted, and will enjoy along with his latest record, Bidin’ My Time, produced by Tom Petty.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • A Musical Manifesto for the Pandemic
    A Musical Manifesto for the Pandemic

    Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians Globe of Frogs helps Jeffrey Schweers endure the pandemic in another burst of Wax On!

  • Laion Roberto
    Laion Roberto

    A Taste for Mojo. Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Hinds

    The Prettiest Curse (Mom + Pop Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Coriky

    Coriky (Dischord). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Sylvester

    Known for birthing two of the most iconic crossover anthems of the disco era -“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat)” Sylvester’s sensational 1978 set, “Step II” has just been reborn, via Craft Recordings.

  • Teddy Thompson
    Teddy Thompson

    Heartbreaker Please (Thirty Tigers). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Keri Johnson
    Keri Johnson

    Anyone. Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Liberté

    Generoso Fierro reviews Albert Serra’s new transgressive feature Liberté, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

  • Junko Beat
    Junko Beat

    Satirifunk (Dumparade Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Blood Tide
    Blood Tide

    Richard Jefferies classic looks like a new film in the Blu-ray reissue.

From the Archives