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Beneath This Gruff Exterior


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Audio CD, May 6, 2003
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Forty years into his recording career, John Hiatt has chosen to title his 22nd studio album, Terms of My Surrender. Surrender? Is that as in Cheap Trick? Or Appomattox? Hiatt laughs, tentatively, at the choice.

“It’s my Appomattox,” he says, wryly. “Really I don’t know where it came from, that idea of trying to arrange the terms of my surrender. I ... Read more in Amazon's John Hiatt Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 6, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New West
  • ASIN: B000778AYE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,265 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Uncommon Connection
2. How Bad's the Coffee
3. The 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

Customer Reviews

Hiatt has this reputation of being a great songwriter.
Francene P.
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.
Dennis Hawley
Being a John Hiatt fan for quite a long time now, I find myself looking forward with eager anticipation to each new release.
Adam Kenny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on March 11, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've read most of the reviews and am puzzled by the venom directed at this album by some of the reviewers. I am not a John Hiatt expert by any stretch, but after listening to the Beneath This Gruff Exterior at least a dozen times, its hard to find much fault with it. Listening for the defects others describe, I am at a loss. Maybe it was a rush job, and maybe a remaster is in order by popular vote, but it sounds just fine to me!

I find humor in Uncommon Connection and How Bad's the Coffee, tenderness in My Baby Blue and Window On the World, a wistful recognition of time flying by in Circle Back, and a poignant view of life with a pet in My Dog and Me. And throughout, I hear a lot of good ol' rock and roll. Though the aforementioned are favorites, I don't dislike any of the others.

I listen to a lot of music and write a lot of reviews. Hiatt is so prolific that I haven't heard much of what he's done. But much of what I have heard I like, including Beneath This Gruff Exterior. So take the naysayers with a grain of salt and try to really listen to this CD before you dismiss it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sylvan L. Groth on May 6, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Whenever a new Hiatt album comes out, I have to remind myself that even a musician of his caliber can't always live up to the expectation that he has created for himself with classics such as Bring the Family and Slow Turning... However, I was pleasantly surprised by Beneath this Gruff Exterior. This disc exceeded all my expectations, and keeps getting better with each listen.
Having the Goners (including slide genius Sonny Landreth) makes these new songs shine, and lyrically the songs are catchier and smarter than anything John has come out with since Walk On.
If you're a Hiatt fan than this is naturally a must have, but I also recommend it highly as a first introduction to his music!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 13, 2003
Format: Audio CD
It takes a true artist to turn personal anguish into something total strangers can dance to. John Hiatt ROUTINELY does this two or three times per album. I know most reviewers are talking about The Goners and how they share equal billing here (and no doubt they deserve to--guitarist Sonny Landreth is a mad scientist in the best sense of the term), but "Beneath This Gruff Exterior" is a revelation to me because Hiatt is really pouring his emotions into this songs these days. He's just about my favorite touring artist because of incredible slices of life like "My Dog and Me" and the amazing "The Nagging Dark," where he openly admits to the world that every move he makes is shrouded because of his battles with depression. It's a shame we are living in a world where the most insipid and dumb stuff gets all the airplay, but this is rocking, expert, brilliant work by four total artists. Run, don't walk....push that buy button. John Hiatt, a Hall of Famer if there ever was one. Caveat: The recording job on this one is barely better than the one on "Tiki Bar"; it's all muddy and midrange. What gives?
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: Audio CD
John Hiatt's swagger has always been one of his most endearing qualities. I may be the only Hiatt fan who still listens to "Slug Line" like it was a religious ceremony. On Gruff Exterior, John rocks bigtime with Sonny Landreth's searing guitar sharing the spotlight. John's opener may take a bit getting used to with the 4-letter word chorus, but stuff happens and John wails. Sonny's slide greases "How Bad's the Coffee," laced with more 4-letter vocals. "The Nagging Dark" is a great catchy Hiatt tune, "Once shame & guilt have made their mark, you can't run away from the nagging dark." "My Baby Blue" has pop hooks galore. My favorite track is the rugged "Almost Fed Up With the Blues" with Sonny's searing guitar struggling with John's snarling vocal. "Circle Back" is a catchy midtempo rocker, "You spend your life leaning into a hard wind; I guess you're less like to take a bow." "Missing Pieces" is a stunning melody with John's lost love melancholy in the lyric. Another favorite of mine is "The Last Time" with its sultry blues that snakes along with Sonny's pulsing guitar, "That's the last time I turn my back on you." The CD concludes with one of John's sweet slower songs spiced with bittersweet regret. This CD rocks so hard and sounds so good that it seems to be happy; but as you listen closer we hear a man grappling with the heaviest of emotions. Don't miss out on this excellent set! Enjoy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark H. Nolan on May 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I have purchased every Hiatt record since Riding With the King and loved them all in varying degrees. Beneath This Gruff Exterior is destined to be one of his all time greats. It is so alive and funky and fun and it has more cohesion that the previous effort Tiki Bar. It appears that John and the guys let it all out and played these songs like a live show. Best of all the songs are strong and emotive, as is his signature. Rock on John.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. B. Ivarsson on June 2, 2003
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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