JOHN HIATT -- Walk On (Capitol)

For almost 20 years now, John Hiatt has been considered by many to be one of America's finest songwriters. His songs have been covered by a diverse group of performers, including Three Dog Night, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, The Neville Brothers, and Rosanne Cash. On his 12th album, "Walk On", Hiatt is back with a few great songs, and a few not so great ones. He's joined in the studio by Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers) on two songs, two ex-members of The Jayhawks on "You Must Go", and longtime fan, Raitt, on "I Can't Wait".

Hiatt's albums, for the most part, are a hit-and-miss affair. You get a few good (at times, great) songs, and a lot of mediocre ones. The CD gets off to a good start with the single, "Cry Love". Unfortunately, things fall off quickly after that. The title song isn't too bad, though it bears a resemblance to Bob Seger. "Good As She Could Be" sounds like Bon Jovi, only with better lyrics. Though the majority of the CD is a bit lacking, rewards come to those who wait. The best songs on "Walk On" are toward the end of the disc.

"Wrote it Down and Burned It", with its brooding groove, is one of the CD's highlights. The coolest thing on Hiatt's new CD though, is the nine-minute unlisted bonus track, "Mile High". It's a bluesy, doo-wop song, with a tinge of "Twin Peaks-style" guitar work thrown in. Even if you're not a John Hiatt fan, be sure to check these two tunes out. You'll be glad you did. Overall, "Walk On" isn't as good as his previous studio effort, "Perfectly Good Guitar", but the songs that are good on here rank among his best.

© 1996 Steve Marshall