Album review: John Hiatt, Perfectly Good Guitar (1993)



By Steve Newton

When I first heard the title of John Hiatt’s new album, Perfectly Good Guitar, I thought for a second that maybe it was an immodest reference to the guitar-playing skills of Hiatt himself. I should have known better, of course, since Hiatt is one of the most unpretentious singer-songwriter-guitarists around.

In actual fact, “Perfectly Good Guitar” is the title of a damn fine tune that pokes fun at guitar-smashing rock stars: “He threw one down from the top of the stairs/Beautiful women were standin’ everywhere/They all got wet when he smashed that thing/But off in the dark you could hear somebody sing/Oh it breaks my heart to see those stars/Smashing a perfectly good guitar.”

Fans of the rough ’n’ tumble Neil Young and Crazy Horse approach will no doubt enjoy that tune, as well as “Buffalo River Home”, which, instrumentally, at least, sounds like an outtake from the Ragged Glory sessions. The spicy guitars of Hiatt, Michael Ward, and Matt Wallace also hit home on the freewheeling opener, “Something Wild”, and rollicking “Cross My Fingers”, and fans of Hiatt’s mellower side should dig the introspective imagery of “Blue Telescope” and the low-down funky soul of “Old Habits”.

There’s something for everyone on this perfectly good recording.


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