New Compilation Combines Chris Hillman's First Two Solo Albums

(Image credit: Omnivore Recordings)

There aren't too many people who can claim to have cofounded several seminal bands, let alone one. Chris Hillman, however, has at least four to his credit. He started the legendary Byrds (with Jim/Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke) in 1964, the Flying Burrito Brothers (with Gram Parsons) in 1969, Manassas (with Stephen Stills) in 1971 and the Desert Rose Band (with Herb Pedersen) in 1985. And let's not forget the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and McGuinn, Clark & Hillman.

However, despite all those years spent in bands, Hillman also has a led a formidable solo career, a career that was highlighted earlier this year with the release of the incredibly well-received Bidin' My Time, which was produced by Tom Petty.

Hillman's solo career actually kicked off in the mid-Seventies with a pair of albums released on the Asylum label—1976's Slippin’ Away and 1977's Clear Sailin’. On February 9, Omnivore Recordings will issue The Asylum Years, a 20-song collection that combines both albums.

Slippin’ Away, which was produced by Ron and Howard Albert (Derek and the Dominos, Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix), was a star-studded affair featuring members of Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Poco, Buffalo Springfield and the Turtles, plus George Terry (Eric Clapton and His Band) and other ace studio musicians. The disc also featured guest appearances by Hillman's former Flying Burrito Brothers bandmates Al Perkins, Rick Roberts, Byron Berline and Bernie Leadon. Hillman took his place as frontman, and the results were the epitome of the classic Seventies L.A. sound.

He returned the following year with Clear Sailin’, which saw him dial back the flashy supporting cast for a more traditional release, sounding much like the iconic music he had created in his early years with the Byrds and Burritos. For Clear Sailin’, Hillman assembled a core band (including Richard Marx) with production helmed by Jim Mascon (Poco, Firefall).

The Asylum Years features an essay from Scott Schinder, which includes a new interview with Hillman.

“Doing these records was part of my growing process," Hillman says in the liner notes. "Do we ever master our professions? Not really, you’re always learning something. It was with the Desert Rose Band that I really felt that I’d come to a point where I’d put in enough time for it to pay off musically. These records are all steps on that journey, and the journey’s been pretty wonderful.”

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The Asylum Years Track List:

  • 1. Step On Out
  • 2. Slippin’ Away
  • 3. Falling Again
  • 4. Take It on the Run
  • 5. Blue Morning
  • 6. Witching Hour
  • 7. Down in the Churchyard
  • 8. Love Is the Sweetest Amnesty
  • 9. Midnight Again
  • 10. (Take Me in Your) Lifeboat
  • 11. Nothing Gets Through
  • 12. Fallen Favorite
  • 13. Quits
  • 14. Hot Dusty Roads
  • 15. Heartbreaker
  • 16. Playing the Fool
  • 17. Lucky in Love
  • 18. Rollin’ and Tumblin’
  • 19. Ain’t That Peculiar
  • 20. Clear Sailin’

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.