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4.7 out of 5 stars
29
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 September 2012
His fourth new album in under five years. The older John Hiatt gets the faster he seems to churn them out. And yet this is another quality release, in fact probably his most consistent and cohesive album since his eighties heyday.

And this one sounds like a proper band album, rather than just the main man with a backing group in tow. Credit producer Kevin Shirley for that, probably. Rockers "My Business", "We're Alright Now", "You're All The Reason I Need" and "Bite Marks" plus the shuffling blues stomp "One of Them Damn Days" give the record its real teeth - the meaty guitar solos were doubtless Shirley's idea too.

The countryish "Give It Up" and "I Know How To Lose You" sound like they escaped from "Slow Turning" or "Stolen Moments" when no-one was watching, whilst "Wood Chipper" is a kind of "Trudy and Dave" for the 21st century, a dark tale of shady characters and hidden menace.

And there's still room for a couple of Hiatt's tenderest ever songs - "No Wicked Grin" and "Blues Can't Even Find Me".

Impressive and enjoyable.
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Something happened (that's almost the title of one of his songs) to John Hiatt when he recorded his album of last year, 'Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns Dirty Jeans And Mudslide Hymns - the perfect matching of great songs to excellent production, with the result of being one of his finest albums of this decade. Well, Hiatt reprises the same production team and his regular road band to come up with another winner with Mystic Pinball. Hiatt is singing better than ever, even though his voice is arguably rougher than before, but it's what he's singing that counts - a uniformly high lyrical standard is maintained, with moments of intense rocking contrasting to sweet balladry. It shouldn't work like this - that an artist this far (four decades) into a career can still deliver the goods. One of the best albums of 2012.
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on 8 October 2012
With something like 25 albums since his debut in the early 1970's John Hiatt took some time to find his writing voice and style, but since the sublime Bring The Family and Slow Turning in the late 1980's through a succession of strong releases through the 1990's and early 2000's, Hiatt continues to excel and churn out high quality music and songs of quite breathtaking beauty (take as examples 'Have A Little Faith In Me' and 'Lipstick Sunset' from Bring The Family right through to 'Down Around My Place' from 2011's beautiful Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. Mystic Pinball could simply be an extension of Dirty Jeans and continues Hiatt's catalogue of excellence. If you have never taken the time to listen and explore Hiatt's music I can assure you the investment will be truly worthwhile. The man is a treasure and I for one rank him as one of the all-time greats that so few people this side of the water have heard of.
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on 21 October 2012
What really encouraged me to buy this was the reviews, that fact the i own all of Hiatt's albums helped. After the 2nd listen i can honestly say it's the strongest album since Slow Turning. There are some great rock out moments and some beautiful tender moments. All in all one of the strongest releases from a legendary singer songwriter.
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on 23 October 2012
John Hiatt has always been a slight under-appreciated song-writer, and in fairness some of his recent albums have not been as consistent as his earlier work. This is a fantastic return to form, however. The songs burst with melodies and fine lyrics. This is as good as Tempest - but without the hype.
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on 5 October 2012
The Hiatt revivial goes up a notch with this stunning album from the senior songwriter (or songwriting senior). Improving on 2011's Dirty Jeans, Hiatt uses the same producer and back up band to create his best album since Crossing Muddy Waters. He seems to have woken up, knows what to write about, how to play, who to play with and who to listen to. The album sounds handmade, and ooozes taste in song selection, ordering of the tracks and how much guts to put into each vocal.

No duff tracks - that's right, maybe a first for Hiatt - all of the songs are at least good. It kicks off with a rousing 'We're Allright Now', then a biting show stopper, 'Bite Marks', and a powerful 'It All Comes Back Someday.' The funny 'Wood Chipper is topped by one of my faves -'My Business' - a gruff blues of wit and style. Slowing the pace, but not the quality is 'I Just Don't Know What to Say', then the fabulous 'I Know How To Lose You'. Just when the pace drops for 'You're All The Reason I Need', he powers back with 'One of them Damn Days' - another standout. 'No Wicked Grin' is tense and witty, 'Give it Up' another rouser, and the end track 'Blues Can't Even Find Me' contains the special self deprecation that Hiatt has long mastered.

The playing is immaculate. Kenny Blevins on drums again, Doug Lancio fabulous lead and slide, and Patick O'Hearn on bass all deliver the goods. The additional musicians never dominate the core. Hiatt's voice is definitely back - as on Dirty Jeans, producer Kevin Shirley records him and the band brilliantly. This is best produced album since Slow Turning and Bring the Family.

It's that good -no, it's that great. Seriously kick ass from one of the elder statesmen.
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on 23 October 2012
I've got most of Hiatt's albums and I would rate this among his best.
He doesn't do anything particularly original, but I don't know of anyone who does the blues/alt country/rock thing any better. There's a good gritty feel to all of the tracks here, and he is on excellent form with his songwriting. It continues the pattern of recent years in conveying the worldview of a guy who has knocked about a lot, made his mistakes, has regrets, but appreciates caring relationships.I particularly like the more poignant songs like 'Your're All The Reasons I Need' and 'Blues Can't Even Find Me'.
I'm sure that Hiatt fans will be pleased with this, and it's as good an introduction as any of his albums for listeners new to his music.
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on 26 September 2012
I've been listening to John Hiatt since I lived in the US in the late 80's and confess to have been a collector of bargain price deletions and anthologies - both vinyl and CD. Seeing him live in London a couple of months - Under the Bridge - fulfilled a long ambition. I've just bought 'Dirty Jeans' and 'Pinball Wizard' at full price - how I owe that to the guy - I'm greatly enjoying them both before even getting into the second listening of each. Great songwriting, excellent musicianship from the Combo, and that marvellous voice. Highly recommended.
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on 17 November 2012
There's been some discussion on here about different people having different taste. I can't but agree with that so I will only attempt in a few short lines to implore anybody thinking of buying this album who isn't already familiar with John Hiatts work to do so and enjoy. I have been a fan since vinyl days and have also seen him perform live and am constantly enthralled and uplifted by the craftmanship inherent in his music and lyrics. There are few artists that I can listen to over and over again without tiring. John is definitely one of them. You may disagree but for what it's worth he is, in my humble opinion, the finest songwiter/performer around.
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on 10 November 2012
It is a great album, and I can only reccomend it for other John Hiatt fans, I look forward to the next album
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