Sunday, December 10, 2017

CD Preview: Chris Hillman’s The Asylum Years

Chris Hillman’s The Asylum Years
The legendary Chris Hillman released his first solo album in seven years in 2017 with the Tom Petty-produced Bidin’ My Time. A charming collection of Hillman co-writes and inspired cover songs (including Petty’s “Wildflowers”), the album is just another gem in a lengthy, critically-acclaimed career that spans six decades and includes tenures with the Byrds; the Flying Burrito Brothers; Stephen Stills & Manassas; McGuinn, Clark & Hillman; and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (yeah, the dude has made a lot of great music...).

Sadly, a number of Hillman’s solo albums have long been out-of-print, including the artist’s excellent 1979 debut Slippin’ Away. Luckily, the folks at Omnivore Recordings are Chris Hillman fans, and the label’s upcoming 20-track collection The Asylum Years – scheduled for February 9, 2018 release – combines Slippin’ Away and Hillman’s sophomore effort, Clear Sailin’, on a single CD for the first time.

Chris Hillman
Chris Hillman photo courtesy Omnivore Recordings
For the recording of Slippin’ Away, Hillman dove into his rolodex and enlisted friends and former bandmates like Memphis soul legends Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn as well as fiddle-player Byron Berline, guitarists Al Perkins and Bernie Leadon, drummers Jim Gordon and Russ Kunkel, and backing singers Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (The Turtles). The assembled talents created a classic of country-flavored rock. A year later, Hillman went into the studio to record Clear Sailin’ with a band that included future star Richard Marx on guitar, keyboardist Skip Edwards (who’d played with Johnny Rivers), and drummer Joe Lala (Joe Walsh, Manassas).

Clear Sailin’ was produced by Jim Mascon (Poco, Firefall) and included a number of songs written by Hillman and Crawdaddy magazine co-founder Peter Knobler as well as covers of Smokey Robinson-penned Marvin Gaye hit “Ain’t That Peculiar” and Danny O’Keefe’s “Quits.” Hillman’s The Asylum Years also includes an essay by writer Scott Schinder featuring a new interview with the singer/songwriter. Kudos to Omnivore for rescuing these two fine examples of 1970s-era L.A. avocado rock from obscurity for a new generation of fans to discover!

Buy the CD from Chris Hillman’s The Asylum Years

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