Unique albums by local bands have fascinating
Winnipeg Free Press: Music Cover Story By: John Einarson
~ May 8, 2016
an ardent vinyl collector for more than five decades, as well as a zealous
Manitoba music booster with an eye to preserving our local music history,
I have in recent years been drawn to searching out albums that are unique
to our province. In many cases, these are albums that weren’t huge sellers
nor on major record labels. Quite the contrary, the artists who recorded
these gems may have financed the recordings themselves for small independent
labels and sold them to a loyal fan base. Several of these album covers
boast local imagery only a Manitoban would recognize, rendering them of
even greater significance to posterity.
Here, for your edification and nostalgic pleasure, I offer
a few samples of fascinating local recordings that have crossed my path
(all quotes are from previous interviews). Perhaps one day these and others
like them will be enshrined in a Manitoba Music Hall of Fame for future
generations to appreciate:
Bill and Sue-On Hillman are western Manitoba music
royalty. Either under their own names or as the Western Union, the Brandon-based
duo, who taught high school by day (both went on to lecture at Brandon
University) and rocked on weekends and summers, have released more than
a dozen albums and toured the world in a career spanning some 50 years,
beginning with Strathclair-born Bill Hillman’s mid-’60s band the Dovermen.
Their ninth album was recorded in Durham during a seven-week
U.K. tour in 1979. Backing the Hillmans in the studio was well-known U.K.
show band Desperado. The album features many concert favourites, plus seven
original songs by the duo, including the single Sail on 747. Assisting
on the tracks is keyboard player Alan Clark, who later joined Dire Straits.
The following year, the Hillmans were deservedly voted
Entertainers of the Year by the Manitoba Country Music Association.