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John Hiatt: Riding with the King (Geffen GHS 4017)

Steven X Rea, High Fidelity, January 1984

A PARADE of rock critics have tagged John Hiatt "the American Elvis Costello." If that's the case, then Riding with the King is not only the best of Hiatt's six albums, it's also the best Costello record to come along in some time. On 'Book Lovers', Hiatt spits out smart-alecky puns in venomous flurries, while longtime Costello cohort Nick Lowe and ex-Squeeze keyboardist Paul Carrack deliver an arch, contrapuntal chorus about "turning the page on my happiness" and other cornball metaphors. 'Say It with Flowers' is another bitter epistle to an ex-lover, a boppy, cheesy-sounding tune that could be Costello backed by the Dave Clark Five, complete with thumping drums and a saxophone that squawks like a strangled goose.

Total word count of piece: 476


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