JOHN HIATT Live Bootleg: Riot With Hiatt (1985) – Rare Geffen Records Promo-Only Live LP

RiotWithHiattLive Bootleg: Riot With Hiatt (1985)
Hiatt’s “On-The-Brink Years,” Pt. 5

FROM THE ARCHIVES, 2011: A prized vinyl possession that has, on more than one occasion (back in the day), brought folks over to the house solely to listen to it. This promo-only live album was issued by Geffen to promote (what would be) John Hiatt’s last album for the label, Warming Up To The Ice Age. For those unfamiliar with Hiatt’s survival story, this was a grim time for the veteran artist, who was battling alcohol abuse, the suicide of his wife and, within months, the loss of his job when Geffen Records issued him his walking papers. As a bit of a last gasp promotion, however, this 1985 live promo LP perfectly captures Hiatt’s out-of-control spontaneity… the tail end of what we refer to around here as his “on-the-brink” years. Originally a King Biscuit Flower Hour recording, this performance is rough & ready, loose & untamed. Hiatt is invigorated, and his band – thanks to the punchy bass work – has a funky authenticity here that weaves throughout the R&B, roots rock and soul brew that Hiatt had formulated in recent years. Interestingly, the new wave keyboard riffs that were abandoned on the new album are present here, even if it’s all buried in the live mix. During “She Said The Same Things To Me,” you’ll hear the band completely fall apart on stage, but Hiatt recovers to laugh it off. Ripped from the original vinyl, the cover art lacks any details, and the back is blank. Listen to Hiatt’s powerful take on his own addiction, “The Usual,” below. There are still a couple of vinyl copies of Riot With Hiatt floating around Amazon, HERE.

Say It With Flowers (3:37)
I Don’t Even Try (3:49)
Pink Bedroom (3:09)
She Said The Same Things To Me (4:35)
Warming Up To The Ice Age (6:15)
Living A Little, Laughing A Little (4:22)
I’m A Real Man (4:08)
The Usual (3:50)
Riding With The King (9:21)
Zero House (4:38)

MORE OF JOHN HIATT’S “ON-THE-BRINK” YEARS: Pt. 1: Riding With The King (1983), Pt. 2: Since His Penis… Came Between Us (Live Bootleg, 1984), Pt. 3: Warming Up To The Ice Age (1985), Pt. 4: Bug Demos (1983/1985), Pt. 6: “Snake Charmer” (Non-LP, 1985) and… Mystic Pinball (2012)
Riding With The KingSince HIs PWarming Up To The Ice AgeJohn Hiatt Bug DemosSnake CharmerMystic Pinball


  • Willard
    July 1, 2011 - 12:38 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Jerry Lee
    July 1, 2011 - 18:13 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard! I saw Hiatt & band around this time, I remember it was a short tour, maybe 12 cities. Very tight band, great show, they played at least an hour and a half, I don’t think Hiatt played any guitar, too bad more of it hasn’t been released.

    • Willard
      July 1, 2011 - 19:07 | Permalink

      No guitar? He sang like a frontman?

      • Jerry Lee
        July 10, 2011 - 19:02 | Permalink

        I remember being surprised that he was just the frontman when the show started, but it’s been a while, he may have played guitar later. It was at the 23 East Cabaret in Ardmore PA, the Philly suburbs, if anyone else was there. Kristi Rose & The Midnight Walkers opened.

        • Willard
          July 10, 2011 - 19:05 | Permalink

          Must have been doing an Elvis/Vegas entrance.

          • Jerry Lee
            July 11, 2011 - 22:07 | Permalink

            That would explain his karate moves! Kristi Rose came close to it- her rockabilly band opened with an instrumental that sounded very familiar, but I could’t quite place it. Then Kristi walked out, bare feet and all, and started singing “Battle Hymn Of The Republic”! “His truth is marching onnnn!” Great moment!

  • July 2, 2011 - 09:50 | Permalink

    Thanks, this brings back good memories, I saw Hiatt live twice

  • alamo54us
    July 2, 2011 - 10:52 | Permalink

    I caught this tour at Irving Plaza in NYC. The band was smoking hot and Hiatt was playing guitar as usual. Interesting to hear that he only fronted the band on at least one date.


  • Duncanmusic
    July 2, 2011 - 19:18 | Permalink

    Used to own this years ago. It was always one of my favorite Hiatt LPs (Ice Age), especially ‘When We Ran’. I was always disappointed that they didn’t include THAT one on this…OR ‘Ever Since His Penis Came Between Us’..used to have THAT bootleg. Did I get it here? Storm took out an old Hard Drive and it’s gone again!

    • Willard
      July 2, 2011 - 19:28 | Permalink

      Follow the link and get it again.

  • lemonflag
    July 6, 2011 - 23:50 | Permalink


  • Rhod
    August 6, 2011 - 19:07 | Permalink

    Thanks for the John Hiatt share he is a talented artist who crosses over several genre’s



  • Peter
    September 3, 2011 - 03:47 | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing.

  • August 31, 2014 - 20:41 | Permalink

    Thanks again…..

  • Anonymous
    April 18, 2016 - 14:49 | Permalink

    Thanks, Willard. I had this years ago, & thanks to you, I have it again. have a nice night, jimg

  • Joe
    April 18, 2016 - 15:43 | Permalink

    Thanks very much, Willard.

  • Exooregon
    April 19, 2016 - 16:28 | Permalink

    Williard…thanks for shining the spotlight on this one again!

  • Skip
    April 19, 2016 - 19:59 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard – was on my wish list a long, long time ago, now I’ve got it and it’s been worth the wait. Love the “Snake Charmer’ track too, not aware that I was ever aware of that… the 80’s were a bit fuzzy for me..! Thanks again for all your sterling work!

  • Grant
    April 22, 2016 - 22:59 | Permalink

    Can’t wait to hear this – thank you WILLARD!!

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