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Beneath This Gruff Exterior

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 6 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Music
  • ASIN: B00008N6NH
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,411 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Uncommon Connection
2. How Bad's The Coffee
3. Nagging Dark
4. My Baby Blue
5. My Dog And Me
6. Almost Fed Up With The Blues
7. Circle Back
8. Window On The World
9. Missing Pieces
10. Fly Back Home
11. The Last Time
12. The Most Unoriginal Sin

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Much to his credit, John Hiatt has never strayed very far from the bluesy garage rock roots of his Indiana childhood. That fact is raucously underscored here, a gritty collection that finds the veteran singer/songwriter co-crediting his longtime band, the Goners (guitarist Sonny Landreth, bassist Dave Ranson and Kenneth Blevins on drums) for the first time--and for good reason. While Hiatt's songwriting efforts are typically strong throughout, with gems like "Almost Fed Up With the Blues," "My Dog and Me," "My Baby Blue," and "The Most Unoriginal Sin" (originally recorded by Willie Nelson in ‘93) showcasing his tough wit and tender heart, this is decidedly a band effort from the rollicking first notes of "Uncommon Connection." Recorded live in the studio, Hiatt and the Goners evoke everything from chugging Sun Records' shuffles to swampy Delta blues, early Ry Cooder and the Band, all of it informed by the almost telepathic sense of interplay these musicians have developed over decades of touring. This is easily the most overtly rocking album of Hiatt's career, but one that hasn't sacrificed an ounce of soul for its joyous energy. --Jerry McCulley

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It's hard to top some of the fine reviews posted, so I'll only add my take. John Hiatt is arguably the most talented songwriter in pop/rock music on the scene, as well as being a superb musician. I've been listening to him since 'Hangin' Around the Observatory', his first release in 1974, and had the privilege of seeing him with The Goners in small clubs in the early 80s (as well as many times since), and it's great to hear them together again. Without a doubt, 'Beneath This Gruff Exterior' stands up there with the likes of 'Riding with the King' and 'Slow Turning'. From the rousing rock-a-billy 'How Bad's the Coffee', with that great Sonny Landreth slide guitar, to the funky rhythm of 'The Last Time', this is pure Hiatt. The rocking 'Almost Fed Up with the Blues' never lets up, while Hiatt's lament to habitat destruction in 'Fly Back Home' is moving, but not depressing.
While it is true, as other reviewers note, that Hiatt's last couple of efforts have been spotty,(the last consistently good release being the underrated 'Little Head), 'Beneath this Gruff Exterior' is right on target. Hiatt fans should be happy, and those not familiar with him are invited to hear what you've been missing. Get it!
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Format: Audio CD
John Hiatt's "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" could very well be one of his three best albums ever. The songs are well written and most of them have a pleasant mix of rawness and melodic hooks. As usual, there's a fair amount of roots rock, blues, and country. You can hear references to Creedence Clearwater Revival in "How bad's the coffee", while "The nagging dark" have a slight feel of Steve Earle - especially on the verse. The opening "Uncommon connection" is built around the kind of "fast-and-sloppy" (in a good sense) approach similar to "Everybody went low" or "All the lilacs in Ohio" from "The Tiki Bar Is Open" (2001). The slower "My dog and me" reminds a bit of songs like "Lipstick sunset" from "Bring The Family" (1987), and the very catchy "Circle back" could easily make you think of "Buffalo river home" from "Perfectly Good Guitar" (1993). As you probably understand by now, John Hiatt hasn't recorded any ground breaking album regarding creativity and originality, but on "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" he does what he knows best.
I can promise you, if you like John Hiatt, you can't go wrong buying this album! It's a relief to see that there's a bit of honest and real music around in these superficial times!
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Format: Audio CD
So glad somebody mentioned the sound quality (or lack thereof) among all the rave reviews. The album was mastered by Doug Sax, one of the best in the business....what went wrong? To me, it sounds like they didn't care and just banged it out and mixed it quickly. Now this method worked great on Hiatt's 'Bring the family', one of my all-time faves. There's no doubt that Hiatt still is a decent (although predictable) songwriter and singer and his band is surely first rate. The sound and production on this one is so bad that I'm sending it back, really...the mix is off, it's way overcompressed and extremely small sounding......
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Format: Audio CD
Compared to recent albums like Tiki Bar and Crossing Muddy Waters, this latest is most notable for the lack of versatility diplayed by the highly talented John Hiatt. I'm not surprised to hear that it was recorded in 8 days- it was probably written in half that time. If you're new to Hiatt's music, go pick up a copy of Tiki Bar and listen to the differences between "All the Lilacs in Ohio," "The Tiki Bar is Open," and "Farther Stars" and you'll see what I mean. Versatility is interesting- similarity, no matter how perfectly executed, is bland.
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Format: Audio CD
Quote..Amazon.com review... "this is easily his most overtly rocking album...
Sorry Amazon.com., stand corrected, after you listen to his actual OVERLTLY rocking albums...
Perfectly Good Guitar
Live at Budakon
Both records feature the massive lead guitar of Michael Ward who left soon after to waste his talent with Jacob Dylan's band ...The Lame Wildflowers.
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By A Customer on Jan. 6 2004
Format: Audio CD
As others have written, the sound is muddy and the songs all sound alike. One of the appeals of other John Hiatt records is the change of pace, from ballads to country to power rock. Here, there is only one sound, and I can barely listen to a whole album of it. Buy Bring the Family instead.
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Format: Audio CD
An album needs to be more than merely loud to "rock," and that's why "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" fails. There is a whole lot of hooting and hollering going on but very little substance. If I want to hear a sound like "Uncommon Connection," all I have to do is go sit by the railroad tracks for a while and wait for the next freight train to pass through. Just as you can almost palate the song's manic banging, shuffling and spitting, it blasts away in a storm of dust and chaos. Hiatt and the Goners blast through these songs like bullets through a cake. At best, this is a collection of demos; at worst, it should have been kept in the vault Hiatt dug it out of. The general weakness of the album makes more distinctive songs such as "My Baby Blue" sound like tossed-off singles rather than the great songs Hiatt has delivered in such abundance over the years. I really think it's time for Hiatt to sever his ties with producer Don Smith, who seems hell-bent on overcooking every Hiatt project that runs through his fingers. "Walk On," Smith's 1995 production with Hiatt, suffers from the same lack of discipline. Albums like "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" really make a fan thankful for the rawer glories of "Crossing Muddy Waters" or "Bring the Family." One can only hope that this album's gorgeous coda, "The Most Unoriginal Sin," is a foreshadowing of things to come from Hiatt, still one of the most authentic performers in the world today.
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