Saturday, 27 October 2012

Albums for Life: 106: John Hiatt: Bring the Family

In the early 1990s Miracle Mile played a session for Bob Harris at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. It was our 2nd visit there; first time we were produced by a familiar looking gent in a flea bag of a sheepskin coat who turned out to be Dale 'Buffin' Griffin, the ex drummer from Mott the Hoople. He was a nice guy who did an ok job for us. (Sad to report that he's now struggling with Alzeimers.)  For our 2nd visit we had a nameless, faceless producer; I'm having trouble remembering anything about the session other than the fact that this guy welcomed us by telling us that he didn't really like bands and that he much preferred working with individual singer-songwriters; he told us that his favourite recent session was with an American legend and proceeded to play us some lovely roughs by John Hiatt and then a few album tracks. This was new to me; I loved the voice and sought out the particular album that this producer raved about. I was initially confused as I was searching from an album that was issued with two covers. The one I was was shown at the BBC was the cover eventually rejected; of a family of ventriloquist's dummies which for me is a stronger image than the stock head shot that was eventually to become the album's cover.

Anyway, I ramble and digress, once I found 'Bring the Family' it has been close to me ever since; a cracking set of songs perfectly produced and beautifully underplayed by a simple line up of Ry Cooder (guitar) Jim Keltner (drums) and Nick Lowe on bass. The grooves are fantastic; witness the infectious 'Memphis in the Meantime' for example. But it was the slow tunes that caught my ear; this was the sound of a drunkard drying out and reveling in his regained consciousness; reinvigorated and thankful; recognizing the mire that he was stepping out of. There's a damaged beauty in those bitter sweet recognitions that gives the ballads an authentic integrity. Here are performances of 'Have a Little Faith in Me' followed by 'Lipstick Sunset' which, on the album, has one of the great slide solos.


  1. There's a fine instrumental version by Bill Frisell; he liked it so much he named the album after it:
    A snip at £24.17!!
    I suggest that you download the title track for 69p...