Music Reviews - John Hiatt: Slow Turning

      Date posted: June 20, 1999

Slow Turning

      (Mobile Fidelity UDCD 741)

      John Hiatt is the Billy Bob Thornton of country music: once you find out who he is you suddenly realize he’s been in every production made in the last twenty years. Just about every country artist worth his salt has covered a Hiatt tune, and Slow Turning is a good hint why. Each song has a sweet honesty at it’s heart, urging you to listen on even when the tune feels a little too familiar.

      Produced by one of rock ‘n roll’s all-time great engineers Glyn Johns, this MoFi edition of Slow Turning sounds absolutely fantastic. Recorded in 1988, the year in which Garth Brooks’ debut album unofficially ushered in the “new-country” era, Slow Turning avoids the trappings of digital recording that so many country artists were experimenting with and sucked the life out of their music. As Hiatt explains in the updated liner-notes, if he was tapping his foot on the wood studio floor, Johns would run it through the tape relay, the same trick done for Willie Dixon’s recording of “Walking Blues.” It’s the small touches that bring a song to life, and you need the right man behind the boards to make the magic.

      With the strong presence of a Hammond organ and slide guitar, this music reminds me of Randy Newman’s early-seventies effort 12 Songs, a terrific album by another fine songwriter (before he went brain-dead and decided to dedicate his life to scoring Disney movies). Like 12 Songs, Hiatt’s music tickles off his fingertips so naturally that the words feel almost obvious–not in the sense that they follow a formula but rather in the same manner you know that plucking one grey hair brings two back, and pants with a 34 waist should always have a 32 leg. I don’t know why the world works that way, it just does. Every song on Slow Turning works, and it will likely remain the peak of Hiatt’s career.

      Certainly this is a modest triumph, but a triumph just the same. Everything from the Anton Corbijn liner-note photographs to a lyric like “We don’t have to feel like dirt anymore / Though love’s not earned / Baby, it’s our turn” fits like a glove. On the title track Hiatt even has the good sense to crack a joke at the thought of his somewhat-less-notable band working with the same Glyn Johns that recorded The Stones’ Beggars Banquet: “I’m yelling at the kids in the back seat / ‘Cause they’re bangin’ like Charlie Watts.”

      This is a charming album, plain and simple. The band is so relaxed you’ll want to pour some Jack Daniels in your lemonade and join the party. Kudos to the powers that be for reviving an album that went away too quietly the first time ’round.

Darryl Stenabaugh

Share This on Your Favourite Social Networking Site:
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
email the author

Related Reviews:

No related posts

Comment On this Post

  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

Got a tip?
  AIG Reviews
Loudspeakers | HT Loudspeakers | Power Amplifiers | Preamplifiers | Integrated Amplifiers | Receivers | Surround Processors | Digital Sources | CD Players | DVD Players | Network Music Players | SACD Players | Analog | Cables | Subwoofers | Portable Audio | Pro Audio | Headphones | Systems | Tuners | Video | Vintage Gear | HD Video | Blu-Ray | Online Archives

Complete List of Online Reviews

     Audio Ideas (Andrew Marshall)
     Ox Box (Bob Oxley)
     Hy End (Hy Sarick)
     Bain's Blog (John Edward Bain)

Interested in Writing about Hi-Fi and Home Theater for AIG? Click to Email a Writing Sample

  Most Popular Today
  1. Audio Ideas: CBC Radio Two - Intelligent Music Selection Becomes A Sausage Factory
  2. Leapfrog Wavemaster 30 Wireless A/V Extender
  3. Audio Ideas, December 2011 - Recent SACDs, CDs, Blu-rays, & Other Confections (Or Not)!
  4. Audio Ideas: Open Reel Wow and Flutter? It May Be The Pinch Roller!
  5. Shanling MC-30 CD Receiver
  6. Behringer 1002B Portable/Studio Mixer - A Remarkable Recording Tool, Especially At The Price!
  7. The Marantz PMD430: The Best Tape Deck Ever Made?
  8. PSB Century 300i Loudspeaker & Century Subsonic 2i Subwoofer
  9. TASCAM DR-680 High Resolution Digital Recorder
  10. Paradigm Monitor Series 7 Sub 10 Subwoofer - Extended, Clean Bass From A Tiny Box!
  Most Popular Overall
  • Recent Comments: