James Hillis

Archive for January, 2015|Monthly archive page

My 50 Great, Forgotten and sadly Ignored Albums,Artists and Songs #49 Kimono My House

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2015 at 11:47 pm

What can I say, SPARKS may not be a big name today but during my high school years they released some amazingly different albums that even then did not get radio play. KIMONO MY HOUSE along with PROPAGANDA was released in 1974, and was a pop oriented album that cashed in on the Glam rock sound coming from England, as a matter of fact it was recorded in England to get that sound right. Ron and Russell Mael were a unique duo with a look that had to be seen to be believed, Ron Mael was the songwriter and Keyboard player and Russell was the lead singer who had a very distinct voice and along with some very intelligent lyrics the songs just jumped out at you and made you pay attention. In The U.K and Europe The Album reached #4 on the charts with the song “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us” reaching #2, however in North America it didn’t break into the top 100, and while ‘This Town” along with “Amateur Hour” and “Talent Is An Asset” were released as singles on this side of the pond they failed to make any waves, while later in the year “Propaganda” was released and was more successful in North America and on its own is a very good album as well. As for “Kimono My House”, both Morrissey and Kurt Cobain have listed this album as one of their all time favorites and for the professional critics? Well this review in a 1974 issue of Creem Magazine say’s it all”it is the duty of every music-loving person on this planet to hunt, track down and grrrrab this album and hold on to it like nothing else. Arguably the most shameful spot on American musical reputation is that the American public tastes forced these guys to flee their homeland. Repent, citizens of America! Repent now before it’s too late! The Lord has already signed a pact with the Maels! Would ye better abide the snare of Satan?   Works for me.

The Album

1 This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of us

2 Amateur Hour

3 Falling in Love With Myself Again

4 Here in Heaven

5 Thank God It’s Not Christmas

6 Hasta Mañana Monsieur
7 Talent Is an Asset
8 Complaints
9 In My Family
10  Equator                                               Oh, and did I mention their appearance?
The Album Cover

The Album Cover



A Winter’s Day In Hespeler

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm

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My 50 Great Unknown,Forgotten and Sadly Ignored Albums,Artists and Songs. #50 Manassas

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

Manassas was a short lived band that released 2 albums, the self titled Manassas in 1972 and Down The Road in 1973. The band was the brainchild of Stephen Stills and included Chris Hillman of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the great session drummer Dallas Taylor, who just  passed away on January 18th of this year. The two albums also had contributions from Bill Wyman,Joe Walsh and Bobby Whitlock among others. Of the two albums The self Titled Manassas was far and away the better album, it was a double album with only one song “It Doesn’t Matter” hitting the top 100 singles in 1972, it got as high as #61, the album itself hit #4 on the charts and ironically was in the top 10 with an album from David Crosby/Graham Nash and Neil Young’s “Harvest”.  The album has been called by Allmusic “A Sprawling Masterpeice”. It is a wonderful early example of country Rock that still sounds good today. Here are the track Listings for the Album.

The Raven

  1. “Song of Love” – 3:28
  2. Medley – 3:34
    “Rock & Roll Crazies” (Stephen Stills, Dallas Taylor)
    “Cuban Bluegrass” (Stephen Stills, Joe Lala)
  3. “Jet Set (Sigh)” – 4:25
  4. “Anyway” – 3:21
  5. “Both of Us (Bound to Lose)” (Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman) – 3:00

The Wilderness

  1. “Fallen Eagle” – 2:03
  2. “Jesus Gave Love Away for Free” – 2:59
  3. “Colorado” – 2:50
  4. “So Begins the Task” – 3:57
  5. “Hide It So Deep” – 2:44
  6. “Don’t Look at My Shadow” – 2:30


  1. “It Doesn’t Matter” (Chris Hillman, Rick Roberts, Stephen Stills) – 2:30
    • Note: Original releases of Manassas do not credit Roberts as a co-author.
  2. “Johnny’s Garden” – 2:45
  3. “Bound to Fall” (Mike Brewer, Tom Mastin) – 1:53
  4. “How Far” – 2:49
  5. “Move Around” – 4:15
  6. “The Love Gangster” (Stephen Stills, Bill Wyman) – 2:51

Rock & Roll is Here to Stay

  1. “What to Do” – 4:44
  2. “Right Now” – 2:58
  3. “The Treasure (Take One)” – 8:03
  4. “Blues Man” – 4:04
    • In tribute: Jimi Hendrix, Al Wilson, Duane Allman.

A Political Inquiry

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Politics in Canada is a year round spectacle and in Cambridge it is no different, we have 4 years till the next Municipal Election but already people are wondering who will run and who won’t and in some cases who should run. I have had a few people ask me if I would consider a run for a seat on city council and while I have no plans to actually do that, I think I would make a good politician as I have some great ideas to help this city , also I have the necessary requirements to be a politician.

I can assure you that I would not be just another corrupt politician I would in effect be a totally different type of Corrupt politician, willing to take money from any cause that would be stupid enough to think that I could get anything done in the Region of Waterloo after the bad public relations that Mayor Craig has had with them, also I would let everyone know exactly what I was getting in bribes, I would be an honestly Corrupt politician.

And what about legalizing Marijuana? That may be a federal Issue not a municipal one but with some of the decisions that have been made at City Hall you would have to assume that they are in agreement with it, so why not.

I feel that a city that looks good feels good, and I believe that under the current regime our personal well-being has been ignored for too long and to that end I would bring in a number of new by-laws that would improve Cambridge.  Spandex and pajama pants would be banned for almost all public areas, even though exceptions would be made for Dollar stores and Wal-Mart, after all we can’t allow those places to lose customers and go out of business.I would also appoint someone to a new position of Director Of Looking Cool, Mike Cahill would be a good Candidate for that position.

And how about some other by-laws to improve Cambridge,  I would make it illegal to spit on the steps of a school. That will keep the little bastards in line(the teachers I am talking about).  Cats will be  forbidden from entering cemeteries. We don’t allow Dogs, so why allow cats?

I will bring in spending cutbacks, except for the real neat rocket car idea that I have, compromise is a part of politics and I could compromise both my principles and my morality if elected, and I only lie if it is really necessary or if it will advance my agenda. But, the most obvious thing that would make me a great Candidate is the fact that I have enormous experience apologizing for failed decisions that I have made in my life and have thousands of excuses for those failed decisions,  Also, I have the Morality of  Pierre Trudeau and the Charisma of Joe Clark.  Vote for Jim 2018

I’ve seen the Morning Rise

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2015 at 11:55 pm

I’ve seen the morning rise
I’ve seen the children smile
I’ve seen the depths of despair
I’ve seen people laughing trying hard not to care

They tell me the times are bad
The economy is in free fall
They may be the worst times we have had
They tell me things are not good at all
But I’ve seen the morning rise

Children snatched from their parents hands
Innocents die so gangs can settle scores
Our heroes die in some far away land
on the horizon is another War
But I’ve seen the Morning rise

The Jackboots are still heard in the eerie mist
The Brownshirts salute an era gone by
The citizens walk silently
they mumble and sigh
Fear is gripping parts of the old land
But I’ve seen the Morning Rise

History repeats itself
Over and over again
The Young don’t listen to the Old
The Old just ignore the Young
And we wind up settling everything
At the point of a million guns
And as I go to bed I pray
That Tomorrow, I’ll see the Morning Rise

Monday On The Speed River

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm

013 014 016 017 018 019 020 021

The Lost 5 of 2014

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

Every year we lose more and more of our cultural Icons and 2014 sure had its share of them.

Jack Bruce, Phil Everly, Pete Seeger, Bobby Womack, Jesse Winchester, Paul Revere, Wayne Static, Tommy Ramone, Acker Bilk, and from the entertainment field, Joan Rivers, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Attenborough, Jan Hooks, Sid Ceaser, Lauren Bacall and Shirley Temple were just some of the Icons who departed the world in 2014, but there were 5 others who died that I were influential to me.

 Gerry Goffin: A lyricist and former Husband of Carol King, Goffin was responsible for many of the songs that came out in the 1960’s such as Will You Love me Tomorrow,Take Good Care Of My Baby, The Locomotion , Go Away Little Girl, It might as well rain Until September,I’m into something Good and my favorite Up on The Roof.  You can also include Pleasant Valley Sunday and You Make Me Feel( like a natural Women) and that is just songs he wrote with Carol King, with others he wrote Who Put The Bomp, among others. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990, and passed away on June 19th 2014 at the age of 75.

Harold Ramis: Harold is one of two non Musicians on my list this year but for my generation was a rock and Roll personality anyway. As a writer Director he created and was involved in some of the greatest movies and TV Shows since 1970, he wrote and acted in Ghostbusters and Stripes, and he wrote and directed Caddyshack, National Lampoons Vacation ,Groundhog day and was a writer on National Lampoons Animal House. But for those of us in Canada he is probably best know for the Television series SCTV for which he was head writer.  He was involved with SCTV for the first 3 years and made some memorable characters such as the Station Manager Moe Green, Swami Bananananda and Allan Crazy Legs Hirshman.  He was also a co-writer on the Canadian hit Movie starring Bill Murray “Meatballs”.  Harold Ramis Left us on February 24th at the age of 69.

 Nash The Slash: His real name was Jeff Plewman but we all knew the bandaged leader of the Canadian rock band FM as Nash The Slash. And for me he was unique, his face completely covered in surgical bandages and playing the Violin and Mandolin among other instruments he brought a unique sound and presence that made the band FM’s first album “Black Noise” a staple on (Ironically) FM radio with the Song “Phasers on Stun” a minor hit on Am radio but a staple on cassette decks in many cars. The album was also Certified Gold in Canada the next year. Nash had a very successful solo career as well and has been made into a comic book character as well. Nash headed into another dimension on May 10th at the age of 66

Johnny Winter: One of the greatest guitarists of all time, he and his brother Edgar have were tearing up the music scene since the late 1960’s and his blues infused versions of others material set him apart from the crowd. His versions of Johnny B. Goode and Highway 61 revisited from his second album “Second Winter” established him as a force to be reckoned with, his own compositions like “Fast Life Rider” and ” hustled down in Texas are not to be ignored either. Known for his blazing guitar work and gruff vocals and along with the fact that he was classified as an albino, he had a stage presence that was hard to ignore, he battled a Heroin addiction and is one of the most bootlegged artists of all time.  during his career he recorded 19 studio albums, 7 live albums, there are also 11 bootleg albums available and 14 Best Of or Compilation albums as well. He was also producer on 4 Muddy Waters Albums and one by Sonny Terry. He was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14, at the age of 70.  P.S. He is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Robin Williams: Along with George Carlin and Richard Prior, Robin Williams can be considered one of the 3 comedians that defined the Rock and Roll comedian . His frantic style and his observations of life endeared him to many and he was the perfect one to take over from Carlin and Prior as they got older. He made his breakthrough of course on the TV series Mork and Mindy( 1978-1982) and his work with Jonathon Winters on that series is legendary and it allowed him to reach a bigger audience than some of his peers, and he actually was a cast member on the Richard Pryors short lived NBC Television series.  He appeared in over 100 movies including his Academy award winning role in “Good Will Hunting”, he won 5 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Grammy Awards and 2 Emmy Awards, however none for Mork And Mindy. He was a popular late night talk show guest and when he was scheduled the ratings were usually higher for that particular show, Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post was “struck by the breadth of Williams’ roles”, and how radically different most were, writing that “Williams helped us grow up.” Unfortunately Robin suffered from depression and that combined with recently being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease led him to leave the world under his own terms and he committed suicide on  August 11th, leaving the world a little less funny.

R.I.P. to all who left us in 2014.

Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis


Gerry Goffin


Johnny Winter


Nash The Slash


Robin Williams




The Sunday Drive.

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2015 at 10:02 am

I know I have written about Sunday’s before but for someone from my generation they were a different time and were also more of a family day then anything we have now.  And this story is just another in the Sunday story’s.
So let’s go way back to a cool fall Sunday afternoon in 1967 the leaves are off the trees the snow has not yet fallen and my Dad has warmed up the Pontiac Strato Chief and my younger sister and I are ready for the drive.  It was a tradition when we were younger, my Dad having to “blow” out the sludge build up in the big V8 and head out to the country roads outside of Hespeler where he could drive the big beast as fast as he could with no worry’s about the Police or my Mom stopping him. We would drive past the old gas station in Puslinch and head to a section of Mill Creek where we would stop and have a sandwich or two, let the dog run and my Dad could have a beer in silence and perhaps drop a fishing line into the creek, catching something was secondary to the real goal..picking up all the old beer bottles that were lying around the area from parties that had occurred on the weekends. How my dad knew where to look for the bottles was a mystery but somehow I think my older Brother knew a thing or two about where to look for them. The enjoyment of nature and knowing that collecting those bottles made my Dad happy was more than enough for my us and as we headed back to the Hespeler for that nights dinner another fine Sunday was put into the books.
So why do I bring this up? Well this is why, this past Sunday my Wife and I decided to go for a drive in the country and I thought about those day’s and of course decided to retrace my Dad’s route. Somehow though it was not the same.  The traffic was a lot heavier than I remembered and cars trying to fly past us on the side roads was disturbing to say the least, but the real downer was when I found the spot that my Dad used to take us. It was now part of the University of Guelph and was blocked off to foot traffic, the water didn’t seem to flow as majestically as I remembered and as hard as I tried there where no beer Bottles to be found,  and that was actually very disappointing.  I found the corner where the old gas pumps where and to my disappointment they were no longer there and instead of an old dirt road there was a 4 lane Highway running past the place. It just wasn’t the same and as we came back into Hespeler it occurred to me that perhaps it was good that my Dad was no longer around to see his favorite spots gone, it would have broke his heart.

No Place To Fall

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm

It was in ’87 that I met him, in a run down Honky Tonk somewhere in Texas
The Statler Brothers were on the jukebox, singing something about”Flowers on the Wall”
He was holding court to a bunch of cowboy’s, and they invited me to join them all
So I pulled up a chair, grabbed a beer and listened to the tales from this desperado.

He talked about the music scene today
And the great ones that were gone
He was eloquent in a drunken sort of way
He strummed an Invisible guitar
an hummed an inaudible Song

He told us tales of Heroin, Booze and living free
He spoke of being redeemed and of the people he knew
Of Elvis,Guy Clark and the Joshua Tree
Spoke of the Demons that killed Gram Parsons too

Round after round of LoneStar went down
Cigarettes of both kinds were smoked
And the jukebox in the corner kept playing the good country rebel sound

He kept us enthralled with his words and his songs
And when the bartender called for Last call
We all broke out in a Hillbilly Haiku, and thanked the tall stranger who called himself Townes
As he slipped out the door, he doffed his hat
And said See you all around.

Many years later I thought of that night when i heard of his plight
It was 2007 on a cold New Years Night
When the Newscaster told us that the great Townes van Zandt had left us tonight.
I played “Pancho and lefty” and “Dead Flowers” over and over again
Knowing that Townes had found his place to fall

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