20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of John Hiatt
So just how many John Hiatt compilations does the world need? For a guy who has never quite landed a hit, Hiatt has certainly spawned more than his fair share of career overview albums, and 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of John Hiatt is the sixth to appear in stores since 1996. Featuring 11 songs recorded during his tenure at A&M Records, with one stray track from his years at Geffen, more than half of the tracks on 20th Century Masters were taken from Bring the Family and Slow Turning, the outstanding one-two punch that re-established Hiatt's recording career and kicked off his contract with A&M, while the others are fine songs cherry-picked from more uneven albums (except for "Perfectly Good Guitar," an amusing but slight tune that got some airplay as a single, explaining its presence here). As a career retrospective, this set doesn't hold a candle to Hip-O's superb Anthology, and Greatest Hits: The A&M Years '87-'94 does a much better job of gleaning the highlights from this period, so it's hard to say just what purpose this disc is intended to serve. It's also worth remembering that Bring the Family and Slow Turning, still the two best albums Hiatt has recorded to date, are both still in print and well worth hearing in their entirety. However, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection is a well-assembled collection of great songs, and it's midline priced, so if you're a casual observer of Hiatt's career, this will give you 49 minutes of music well worth hearing. But if you want to dig deeper into Hiatt's work, look elsewhere.