Tiki Bar Is Open

The Tiki Bar Is Open

by John Hiatt
     
 

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Over the course of a career that's spanned the better part of a quarter century, John Hiatt has proven he's without peer in his ability to move from pulling your heartstrings to pulling your leg. He does a little of both on this captivating disc, which folds Hiatt's typically incisive lyrics into an origami of melodies that range from chugging rock (the

Overview

Over the course of a career that's spanned the better part of a quarter century, John Hiatt has proven he's without peer in his ability to move from pulling your heartstrings to pulling your leg. He does a little of both on this captivating disc, which folds Hiatt's typically incisive lyrics into an origami of melodies that range from chugging rock (the Heartbreakers-styled "Everybody Went Low") to good-'n'-greasy soul-blues (like "Hangin' Round Here," a charming ditty reminiscent of classic Little Feat). Hiatt's band, anchored by understated-but-virtuosic guitarist Sonny Landreth, really shine on edgy numbers like the New Orleans-tinged (but Buckeye State-set) two-stepper "All the Lilacs in Ohio," but they know enough to hang back on the gentle "Something Broken," a tale of loss and regret that gains added portent from Hiatt's low-key delivery. Melancholy, if not outright desperation, underlies many songs here, but Hiatt knows enough not to let his listeners languish in the doldrums for too long, as evidenced by the reggae-tinged rambler's anthem that gives the disc its title. The disc's most futuristic tune, the closing nine-minute psychedelic jam "Farther Stars," references Peter Gabriel and the Beatles, but the loose-limbed groove -- think a bluesy "Tomorrow Never Knows" -- remains pure Hiatt. In baseball, they call a player with no weak spots a "five tool" prospect. In the world of rock 'n' roll, we call him John Hiatt.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
On a creative roll after 2000's acoustic Crossing Muddy Waters, John Hiatt returned rejuvenated as well as electric. Old backing band the Goners returned for his 17th -- and best -- album in the 13 years that have passed since the same outfit accompanied him on 1988's classic Slow Turning. Unlike its intentionally cheesy tongue-in-cheek title, Tiki Bar is a keenly constructed collection of heartfelt, bluesy tunes that rock -- and often rock hard -- with tremendous soul. Subtle use of drum loops and the occasional overdub enhances, but doesn't update, Hiatt's roots approach. Like the Band, whose "The Weight" he evokes on "Hangin' Round Here," these songs seemingly spring from a bottomless well of melodies and hooks, all energized by his raw, throaty vocals. The famed Goners guitarist, Louisiana's Sonny Landreth, positively burns throughout, especially on slide, and the group consistently coalesces like Crazy Horse on a hot night. They follow their eclectic leader through waltzy ballads, folksy love songs, mid-tempo burners, and even an unusual album-closing ten-minute psychedelic romp, "Farther Stars," that takes the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" to the Middle Eastern swamps. Far from winding down in his fifties, John Hiatt released the most inspired work of his life. Not quite as magical as his high-water mark, Bring the Family, this is still a superbly crafted disc whose songs quickly sink in and stay lodged in your brain.
Blender - Edward Helmore
Classic terrain from one who should know -- think of Tiki Bar as Steve Earle without the jail time.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2001
Label:
Vanguard Records
UPC:
0015707959322
catalogNumber:
79593

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