McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1979-80) as McGuinn, Clark & Hillman)

- Gene Clark (RIP 1991) -- vocals

- Chris Hillman -- vocals, bass

- Roger McGuinn -- vocals, guitar


  line up 2 (1981) as McGuinn - Hillman

- Chris Hillman -- vocals, bass

- Roger McGuinn -- vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians: (1981)

- Barry Beckett -- keyboards

- Scott Kirkpatrick -- drums

- Joe Lala -- percussion

- Wayne Perkins -- lead guitar

- John Sambataro -- lead guitar





The Byrds (Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and  Roger McGuinn)

- Gene Clark (solo efforts)

- The Desert Rose Band (Chris Hillman)

- The Dillard and Clark Expedition (Gene Clark)

- The Firebyrds (Gene Clark)

- Chris Hillman (solo efforts)

- Roger McGuinn (solo efforts)

- The Souther, Hillman, Furray Band

- Thunderbyrd (Roger McGuinn)





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SW-11910

Year: 1979

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4780

Price: $15.00

Cost: $1.00


By the mid-1970s The Byrds were ancient history, increasingly relegated to oldies stations.  Perhaps because their solo careers weren't exactly thriving, in 1977 Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn agreed to a European package tour.  The deal called for a pseudo-reunion whereby they would tour together but each would front their own bands.  While the tour collapsed after a couple of UK dates (Hillman's management got into a fight with the tour promoters), the experience convinced Clark and McGuinn to continue the partnership with an acoustic American tour.  Those dates saw Hillman join in for a couple of dates with the trio continuing to tour over the next year (with former Byrd David Crosby occasional joining in). The resulting publicity caught the attention of Capitol Records which signed the trio to a six album recording contract in late 1978.  


Produced by Ron and Howard Albert, 1979's "McGuinn, Clark & Hillman" found the trio purposely avoiding The Byrds name and sound.  The original members reportedly had an agreement that they would never invoke the name unless all five members were involved in a reunion.  The end result was pleasant, but largely anonymous AOR made even more curious by McGuinn's near absence from the proceedings. While Clark and Hillman were represented by numerous compositions and most of the lead vocals, McGuinn was represent by two original numbers ('Don't You Write Her Off' and 'Bye, Bye Baby').  Even his signature 12 string Rickenbacher was absent from the mix leaving the Albert brothers to surround the trio with then-happening synthesizers, heavy percussion and an occasional discofied beat ('Release Me Girl').  McGuinn later admitted in an interview that he felt like a hired gun during the recording sessions. To be truthful, most of the album wasn't bad, but tracks such as 'Long Long Time', 'Surrender To Me' and ' Stopping Traffic' recalled something from the Firefall catalog (which was itself little more than warmed over Eagles, who had themselves borrowed heavily from The Byrds). If you could get over the fact these guys were not the reincarnated Byrds there were at least a couple of interesting efforts, including Hillman's 'Sad Boy' and McGuinn's pretty ballad 'Bye, Bye Baby' - the latter being the only track to sport any Byrds-styled echoes. 

Backed by the top-40 hit 'Don't You Write Her Off' (which was actually quite catchy), an abbreviated supporting tour (Clark's always fragile health took a turn for the worse forcing him to drop out of the tour) and decent reviews the parent album sold respectively, eventually peaking at # 39.


"McGuinn, Clark & Hillman" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Long Long Time   (Chris Hillman - Ramsey - Rick Roberts) - 3:06

2.) Little Mama  (Gene Clark) - 4:13

3.) Don't You Write Her Off   (Bob Hippard - Roger McGuinn) - 3:13

- 'Don't You Write Her Off' b/w 'Sad Boy' (Capitol catalog number 4693)

4.) Surrender To Me   (Rick Vito) - 3:33

- 'Surrender to Me' b/w 'Little Mama' (Capitol catalog number P-4739)

5.) Backstage Pass   (Gene Clark) - 4:22

- 'Backstage Pass' b/w 'Bye Bye Baby'  (Capitol catalog number P-4763)


(side 2)
1.) Stopping Traffic  (Chri Hillman - Knobler) - 3:13

2.) Feelin' Higher   (Gene Clark - Jim Messina) - 5:18

3.) Sad Boy  (Chris Hillman) - 4:00

4.) Release Me Girl   (Gene Clark - Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 3:52

5.) Bye, Bye Baby   (Bob Hippard - Roger McGuinn) - 3:54


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  McGuinn - Hillman

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SO-12108

Year: 1981

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: embossed cover; minor wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00


With Capitol having optimistically signed the original Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn trio to a six album deal, the first two albums sold well enough for the label to finance a third collection.  Clark's various personal issues and his addiction to dugs and alcohol saw him all but absent on 1979's "City."  He was completely out of the line-up by the time 1980's "McGuinn - Hillman" was recorded.


This time out Capitol teamed the pair with veteran soul and R&B producers Barry Beckett and Jerry Wexler.  Capitol clearly hoped the collaboration would be fruitful in terms of yielding some commercial success and Beckett and Wexler had an impressive track record; albeit it was largely with soul acts.  Those goals for a return to massive sales weren't to be.  Underlying the problematic recording sessions was the dreaded concept of musical vision.  McGuinn and Hillman had already written an album's worth of material with the intent of releasing a concept album built around the theme of night life and entertainment in they city.  Having been commissioned to churn out hits, Beckett and Wexler listened to the demos and hated the concept and the songs.  With the exception of three tracks, the other nine compositions were rejected outright.  McGuinn and Hillman were furious; their anger underscored when the producers demanded they record a bunch of outside covers.  Admittedly Beckett and Wexler did their job, turning in an album that was far more commercial than anything either principal had done as a solo act.  Pretty much any one of these ten tracks had top-40 commercial potential.  Capitol even released the country-rocker 'Love Me Tonight' and 'Turn Your Radio On' as singles, though neither did anything commercially.  Unfortunately even a casual fan could detect a lack of enthusiasm on many of these performances.  With the possible exception of 'King for a Night' which at least included a touch of McGuinn's classic twelve string guitar, the rest of the album featured early-'80s AOR written and performed to blend end with the wave of bland corporate rock that ruled the airwaves.  The only thing less inspired than most of these performances was the Peter Shead designed album cover art.



The pair toured in support of the album, but that came to an abrupt end after a performance at New York's Bottom Line.  Hillman got into a fight with a Capitol Records executive after hearing him suggest McGuinn should return to a solo career.   For its part, Capitol quickly terminated their recording contract; pulling all support for the duo.  Appalled by the attack, McGuinn ended all further work with Hillman. (Of course they've subsequently collaborated over the years.)





"McGuinn - Hillman" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mean Streets   (Chris Hillman - Douglas Foxworthy) - 2:56   rating: *** stars

With Hillman handling lead vocals, the opening country-rocker 'Mean Streets' has always reminded me on an early Eagles performance.  The track was quit commercial, but complete with Joe Walsh-styled guiatr solo, also sounded calculated.

2.) Entertainment   (Chris Hillman - Roger McGuinn) - 3:26   rating: **** stars

One of the three tracks that survived from the original concept album, 'Entertainment' was a bouncy pop tune showcasing one of McGuinn's nicer vocals.  Nothing else on the album matched the enthusiasm shown on this one.

3.) Soul Shoes  (Graham Parker) - 3:12   rating: **** stars

While I can understand their frustration seeing self-penned material being rejected by Beckett and Wexler, Hillman anad McGuinn turned in a great cover of Graham Parker's 'Soul Shoes.'  With Hillman on lead vocals and a taunter, soul-tinged arrangement, Capitol missed an opportunity when they passed over releasing the track as a single.

4.) Between You and Me   (Graham Parker) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

An up-tempo country-rocker, 'Between You and Me' didn't exactly sound like a Byrds tune, but the bubbly performance was one of the few tracks where McGuinn actually seemed to be enjoying himself.

5.) Angel   (Chris Hillman - Douglas Foxworthy)- 3:20   rating: *** stars

Clearly penned for maximum radio exposure, 'Angel' was one of the most commercial things they'd ever recorded.   Complete with nice blended lead vocals and a catchy chorus, it was another track that could have been mistaken for The Eagles, Firefall, Poco or anyone of dozens of other early-'80s country-rock outfits plying their trade.  


(side 2)
1.) Love Me Tonight   (Robbie Seidiman) - 3:16
   rating: *** stars

Commercial country-rock ...  well, actually more like country-pop ...  It was released as a promotional 45:






- 1980's 'Love Me Tonight' (mono) b/w 'Love Me Tonight' (stereo) (Capitol catalog number P-4973)






2.) King for a Night   (Chris Hillman - Roger McGuinn) - 3:32  rating: **** stars

Spotlighting McGuinn on lead vocals, 'King for a Night' was another survivor from the original concept album.  It was also the tune with the most commercial potential and had the advantage of showcasing a touch of McGuinn's trademarked chiming 12 string guitar.

3.) A Secret Side of You    (William MacFarlane) - 3:43   rating: *** stars

With Hillman on lead vocals, 'A Secret Side of You' foudn the duo returning to Poco-styled country-rock.  Not a shred of originality on this one, but I'll admit to humming along with it.

4.) Ain't No Money   (Rodney Crowell) - 3:32  rating: ** stars

I like Rodney Crowell so I figured their cover of 'Ain't No Money' would be okay.  The result was the aural equivalent of a television dinner.

5.) Turn Your Radio On   (Chris Hillman - Roger McGuinn) - 3:04

'Turn Your Radio On' ended the alum with a pretty, but forgettable ballad.  McGuinn's delivery came off as fragile.  Hillman later re-recorded the song as a bluegrass ditty.  It was an odd choice for a single.





- 1980's 'Turn You Radio On' (mono) b/w 'Making Movies'  (Capitol catalog number P-4592)