all of a sudden


1982 Geffen

LP. GHS 2009
  CAS. GEF M5 2009

1997 geffen

CD. GEBBD 2009

2004 Lemon Records


1 I look for love 3:35 30 seconds preview  
2 This secret life 3:57 30 seconds preview  
3 Overnight story 3:28 30 seconds preview  
4 Forever yours 3:46 30 seconds preview  
5 Some fun now 3:20 30 seconds preview  
6 The walking dead 2:53 30 seconds preview  
7 I could use an angel 3:37 30 seconds preview  
8 Getting excited 3:35 30 seconds preview  
9 Doll hospital 3:01 30 seconds preview  
10 Something happens 3:24 30 seconds preview  
11 Marianne 2:44 30 seconds preview  
12 My edge of the razor 4:21 30 seconds preview  

Total running time:



John Hiatt:



Jesse Harms:


Background Vocals

James Rolleston:


Background Vocals

Darrell Verdusco:


Background Vocals



Produced: Tony Visconti
Engineered: Larry Alexander

Engineer assisted:

Jason Corsaro

Josh Abbey

Mastered: Ted Jensen

art direction:

richard seireeni
photography: howard rosenberg
illustration: nick taggart


  • All songs written by John Hiatt except "Doll hospital" written by John Hiatt and I wood.

  • Recorded at Power Station, NY

  • additional recording at good earth studios,

    london, england

  • engineerd by tony visconti

  • assisted by gordon fordyce

  • Mixed at Good Earth Studios

  • Mastered by ted jensen at Sterling Studios Sound, NY

press photo


geffen biography

When people who know what they want, find what they're looking for, you can usually tell by the way they lean back in their chair, cross their arms and grin that certain grin of long sought satisfaction.
That's what John Hiatt is doing right now, sitting amidst amps, instruments and mixing boards in a San Fernando Valley rehearsal hall gearing up for an upcoming spring tour keyed to the release of his Geffen Records debut, All Of A Sudden.

Those who know Hiatt, even by reputation, are aware of his near-manic quest for that sound somewhere inside his skull-- a sound that apparently has not escaped intact until now. Never mind the fact that Hiatt's last two albums, Slug Line and Two Bit Monsters received near-unanimous critical praise from the terminally jaded rock press corps. To Hiatt they are only well-intentioned failures—some solid songwriting to be sure, but a sound that fell, on. the whole, something short of adequate.
Never mind the burgeoning cult following the 29 year-old Indianapolis native has attracted over the past few years with a galvanic live show, a scene-stealing guest slot on the recent Ry Cooder tour, soundtrack contributions to several films, including, most recently, The Border, and some VIP song covers. Hiatt is really only interested in one thing-- success on his own terms. "All I ever asked for was a shot," he insists. And like the one heard 'round the world, All Of A Sudden could well be the broadside Hiatt’s been waiting to deliver.

With the generosity of a man who's finally gotten what he wants, Hiatt is not at all opposed to sharing the credit for All Of A Sudden, which certainly does sound, from first listening onward, like the singer/writer/guitarist's most assured offering to date. "Music is a totally collaborative art," he says." And this time. i made a real effort to hook up with people who knew what they were doing so that together we could pull something off and make it stick.”
Those hookups included Hiatt's present band; Jesse Harms (keyboards, background vocals), Darrell Verdusco (drums, background vocals) and James Rolleston '(bass,
background vocals), who, along with newly added guitarist Jack Sherman, will form Hiatt's touring group as well. But the real catalytic factor in the All Of A Sudden success formula was producer Tony Visconti.

On the subject of the expatriate American producer, celebrated for his work with
T. Rex, David Bowie and Mrs. Visconti (Mary Hopkin)among others, Hiatt waxes positively rhapsodic. "I was delighted,” he confesses. "Tony didn't let me down. It was my first experience working with a bona fide record producer and it was a good one. It took us a while to know how much we could each get away with, but by the end I felt we'd really only scratched the surface of what we could do together." Smoking a modest chain of Marlboros, Hiatt muses on the essential nature of a producer's role in record crafting. "It’s a lot more than just turning dials,” he asserts. "A real producer can help you weed out the stupid stuff in your music and really inspire you. That's exactly what Tony did. I was anxious for someone to be really honest about what I was trying to do. Tony was a great help vocally as well as musically. When we first started recording I’d wanted to bring in another guitarist. He advised against it and was able to draw things out of me on guitar that I didn't know I had. In terms of style, I wanted to try and change things up a bit and I needed a producer who wouldn't be thrown by the diversity. Tony was able to take the material and present it coherently. It's pretty slim pickings as far as producers go,” Hiatt asserts. "You either get something completely overblown or have to settle for pot luck. Tony knew what he was doing.”

So, from all indications, did Hiatt. From the evidence of All Of A Sudden's twelve selections, his songwriting skills have kept pace with his own escalating demands. Hiatt's attention to the craft of tunesmithing should, if there's any justice in this world, earn him the thanks of a grateful listening public, a public Hiatt feels he has a lot to say to. “No one's writing songs anymore,” he asserts. “At least I haven't heard any on the radio I've been listening to. All I hear is a lot of groans and grunts over a four beat bar,” Hiatt sighs. “Sometimes I don't know why I bother. A lot of the so-called avant garde slag the Tin Pan Alley tradition of songwriting, but that's what it's really all about -- it's got to get back to the average person somehow. I really believe that my music can be understood and appreciated by a whole lot of people.”

All Of A Sudden is certainly a mix of moods and methodologies and that rarest of commodities, an album with no bad cuts. Picking three cuts at random, Hiatt
gives a spot of capsule exposition. “Doll Hospital was a song suggested by my wife,” he remarks of the album's unquestioned rave-up. “She's always had a standing invitation to come up with titles and lines and that one took about twenty minutes to write after she gave me the idea. 'Marianne,' he continues, recalling the origins of the rollicking, Tex-Mex spiced tune, "is about going home and looking up some girl you always had the highest respect for -someone you knew was cut out for the best in life-- only to find out she's married some total jerk and is completely mired in a miserable life." On “Some Fun Now," Hiatt has put a new twist on one of his favorite themes: What Price Glory? “'Some Fun' is really 'Slug Line' part two. It comes from personal experience-- what it's like to hover at the edge of success and what it may do or may already have done to me.".

Whatever Hiatt's position vis-a-vis his own. rigorous creative standards, it's obvious the guy's not looking back. A pause, another Marlboro, and he plunges into some speculation on the future. "This album marks an end of a certain kind of songwriting for me,” he explains. "I'm trying to get out of certain song structures. I hope to get my lyrics even more pared down, the idea being that, by simplifying, you ultimately get something more weird; maybe I'll call the next LP Plain Talk,” he muses.

Hiatt's already way ahead of himself, out beyond the rehearsal studio, the interview, even All Of A Sudden. It's kind of scary really, as when he's asked to sum up his feelings. on the long-player in question. “it's the first album I’ve made that's not an overall disappointment." he states. At the thought of a John Hiatt LP that would totally satisfy its creator, the minds reels.

nigel williamson 2004

"AII Of A Sudden" was surely an ironic title. By the time John Hiatt's fifth album was released in 1982, he'd been making records for eight years, toured as a member of Ry Cooder's band, written songs for other artists from Conway Twitty to Three Dog Night and been branded the new Elvis Costello.
Into the bargain, he'd also been signed and dropped by two major record labels - which is how in the early 80s he came to sign for Geffen Records, whose flamboyant, fast-talking head man, David Geffen, promised fame and glory to match Hiatt's already considerable critical acclaim.
As part of this game plan, Tony Visconti, legendary producer of David Bowie and T Rex, was brought in to add a glossy production to Hiatt's roots-based sound and, hey presto, the results were - all of a sudden - meant to make him a household name.
Of course, it didn't quite work out like that. More than 20 years later, John Hiatt is one of popular music's great cult figures. But the big commercial breakthrough that AII Of A Sudden was meant to herald has still pretty much eluded him. Instead, he has built an enviable reputation as the 'songwriter's songwriter' revered by his fellow musicians and connoisseurs alike. Which, let's face it, is not a bad place to be.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1952, Hiatt's strongest early influences were the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. After playing in a succession of youthful garage bands, he moved to Nashville in 1970, working as a songwriter and performing in local clubs until he signed his first recording contract with Epic, who released his debut album, "Hang in' Around the Observatory" in 1974. It was followed a year later by "Overcoats" before Hiatt headed west and relocated to Los Angeles. There he became good friends with Ry Cooder, playing rhythm guitar in his touring band and playing on his 1981 album Borderline.

In the meantime, Hiatt had also signed to MCA, who released his third album "Slug Line" in 1979. The record cemented his reputation not only as a songwriter of rare insight into the human condition but for uncategorisable genrehopping between guitar rock. gruff troubadour ballads, off-kilter country and potent folk-blues. It was followed in 1980 by "Two Bit Monsters" a sharp collection of guitar tunes accompanied by his most acerbic lyrics yet and which had the critics making excited comparisons with Elvis Costello.
Yet sluggish sales resulted in him 'being dropped a second time, before Geffen decided to pick him up and give him the makeover treatment. His first album for the label was “AII of A Sudden" and it marked a dramatic departure. Backed by Jesse Harms on keyboards. James Rolleston on bass, and Darrell Verdusco on drums, the techno-pop production values Visconti brought to the record arid the new wave synth sounds predictably appalled some of his
die-hard fans who regretted the abandonment albeit only temporarily - of the gritty fusion of American roots styles that had characterised his earlier albums.
Yet listening to All Of A Sudden today, the quintessential qualities of Hiatt the consummate singer-songwriter are still self-evident.
The sound is undeniably pure 80s., Yet, on one level. the glossy production merely serves to illustrate how adaptable and illuminatingly vibrant Hiatt's songs are, capable ,of transcending any musical setting. Which also explains why his songs have covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Iggy Pop via Bonnie Raitt and Dr Feelgood.
The album's best-known two songs are probably the opener, "I Look For love" a knowing dissection of the dating scene, and the much-anthologised "My Edge Of The Razor", which still ranks as one of the finest song Hiatt has ever penned. But the rest are almost as memorable, with Hiatt's dark humour fully operational on "Doll Hospital," his social observation as acute as ever on "The Walking Dead" and his classic loner's' perspective pungently expressed on "Getting Excited." Yet needless to say, chart success once again proved elusive.

After "All of a Sudden" came 1983’s "Riding With The King" with a cast that included Nick Lowe and Paul Carrack. The title track was later recorded by Eric Clapton and B. B. King, who adopted the song for their' collaborative 2000 Grammy-winning album, which shared the same title. The release of Hiatt's third and final album for Geffen came in 1985 with "Warming Up To The Ice Age" (also available on lemon Recordings as CDLEM 8), by which time he was having 10 deal not only with his own alcoholism but with the tragedy of his second wife's suicide. Then, to add to his woes, Geffen lost patience and he was unceremoniously dropped again.
After a spell in rehab, Hiatt next signed to A&M, where he called on old friends Ry Gooder and Nick Lowe as the backing band on his 1987 album, "Bring The Family" It was followed just a year later by 1988's excellent "Slow Turning" helmed by Glyn Johns, whose production credits incJuded The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Eagles and countless others. In the early 90’s Hiatt formalised his loose but long-standing association with Cooder and Lowe in the band Litlle Village, which released one self-titled album in 1992 before Hiatt resumed his solo career with the 1993 album "Perfectly Good Guitar", featuring guest performances by the Jayhawks and Bonnie Raitt.
John Hiatt has carried on releasing fine albums at regular Intervals ever since. He transferred yet again to EMI/Capitol for 1995's "Walk On", Then two years later came "Litlle Head". More prolific than ever, the new millennium opened with “Crossing Muddy Waters" and was followed by 2001's "The Tiki Bar Is Open" and, most recently, 2003's "Beneath This Gruff Exterior".
Over a recording career lasting 30 years, 'John Hiatt may not have become the household name that" All Of A Sudden" was meant to make him. But he has' become one of music's most respected elder statesmen whose trenchant observations on life and love place him among the most powerful singer-songwriters of his generation.

Hiatt's fifth album and his first for Geffen, his third record label, was given a somewhat inappropriate big-gloss production (all shimmering keyboards and filtered vocals) by Tony Visconti, known for his work with David Bowie. What counts with Hiatt, though, is the songs, and this album contains "I Look for Love," as knowing a dissection of the dating scene as anyone has yet attempted.