"This record is the best that Hiatt made before 1987's "Bring the Family". At this point in time, Hiatt sounded much like young Elvis Costello, playing bouncy new wave music with angry vocals and lyrics. "Slug Line" is a consistently exciting record, full of driving beats and clever wordplay. It is interesting to contrast this 1979 recording with his 1987 masterpiece "Bring the Family" and the albums that came after that one; you can hear Hiatt mature from an "angry young man" type to an older, wiser, happy family man."
Will the real JH please stand up?
. | Chicago, IL USA | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, the recording industry wanted another Elvis Costello, and produced Hiatt to be a contender. That's a problem, except that John was the number one contender. Listening to this in perspective of his life's work since, you can hear the real John Hiatt in there, nobody's imitator, but kinda steered that way. Midwestern babyboomers note : Appleton WI's Doug Yankus,(d'82), (from the band "Soup", c'68), plays guitar throughout on this , (and "Hangin' Out at the Observatory")."
3.5 Stars for this "Angry Young Man"-styled effort
WalterDigsTunes | 12/05/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I read about John Hiatt in a magazine and I snatched up this release after finding it for cheap. The publication claimed that this was marketed as a "US Costello." To me, it seems like that description works.
The album itself is a brief affair. Most songs fall short of the 3 minute mark. They're, for the most part, spiky vignettes that blend into acerbic little rock and roll numbers. Fast, untreated drums and trebly guitars are the norm. Remember Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp!"? Well, that's the kind of production that these songs boast. This approach suits them well, since it allows them to function as fiercely independent tales that pop up and later fizzle out.
There are also some songs that deviate from the formula. The title track uses treated organs, a slower tempo and subdued guitars. But it still works. "Madonna Road" is a pseudo-reggae song that only the late-70s new wavers could've concocted. "Long Night" takes a similar tempo and applies it onto a looser approach. "Take of Your Uniform" is a bit of a touching number thanks to the organ texture.
But why the 3(.5) stars? Well, Hiatt's voice is rather irritating. The songs might have appealing rough-edges and the lyrics might work alright, but his voice doesn't do it for me. It's rather nasaly and whiny, and not in a good way.
If you're a fan of the man's work, buy this. If you like late-70s Costello or Joe Jackson, buy this. If you're just curious about this sort of music, give those two Angry Young Men a shot before purchasing this album."
Mixin' It Up
Graeme Strempel | Perth Western Australia | 10/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I still really enjoy this album even if it seems a bit disjointed. JH was still very much in a learning curve at this time. Glimpses of the greatness to come can be found in, Negroes, Washable Ink and The Night That Kenny Died. Another early rocky album so, one for the serious fan. "