John Hiatt - Live at the Hiatt

The folks at Hip-O Select have issued a 5000-CD limited edition of Live at the Hiatt, a recording of an October 1993 John Hiatt concert in London. Hiatt was backed by the Guilty Dogs, the alt-rock trio who played on his 1993 studio album Perfectly Good Guitar. Live at the Hiatt was originally available only as a promotional giveaway item connected with that album. Information is here:

For Hiatt-philes like myself, it's good to have the disc commercially available while the supply lasts. Still, a lot has happened since 1993. At that time, there was no such thing as a live album from Hiatt. But since then, two have been commercially released: Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan in 1994, and Live From Austin TX in 2005. And -- get this -- both of those albums were also recorded in 1993 with the same band. Therefore, Hiatt's casual fans will probably find Live at the Hiatt to be a redundant item.

But Hiatt's devotees will find Live at the Hiatt interesting for a few reasons. First, it's been a rare collectible item until now, and apparently will be again soon. Second, it's good stuff. Hiatt's voice sounds a bit road-worn, but he seems to be having a good time. During the song "Slow Turning", he unexpectedly drifts into a medley of well-known classics.

But the most surprising thing about the disc is that it contains a performance of "I Don't Even Try", a song from his 1983 album Riding With The King. In my experience, it is a rare occasion when Hiatt performs a song that dates back farther than his 1987 album Bring The Family. I have seen Hiatt perform live a number of times since the late-'80's, but I have never heard him perform a pre-1987 song. The inclusion of that song makes Live at the Hiatt a keeper for this particular follower of his career.

While we are on the subject of Mr. Hiatt: his 2000 album Crossing Muddy Waters is now out of print, and has therefore become appropriate for Rarebirdian reviewing. I have added a review of the album to my John Hiatt page: