Personnel: John Hiatt (vocals, guitar); Scott Matthews (slide guitar, saxophone, keyboards, bass, drums, background vocals); Martin Belmont (guitar); Paul Carrack (keyboards, background vocals); Nick Lowe (bass; background vocals); Bobby Irwin (drums).
Producers: Ron Nagle, Scott Matthews, Nick Lowe.
Engineers include: Neill King.
Although John Hiatt's personal life was hell in 1984--as detailed on 1987's starkly autobiographical BRING THE FAMILY, Hiatt's wife committed suicide and he himself was an alcoholic wreck--that year's RIDING WITH THE KING is the strongest of his early albums. Produced (separately) by Nick Lowe and Scott Matthews of the Durocs, RIDING is half rootsy pub rock (Lowe's side, featuring his band of the era, the Cowboy Outfit), and half spare, mostly-acoustic folk songs (Matthews' side, on which Hiatt and Matthews are the only musicians).
Most importantly, RIDING has at least four of the finest songs John Hiatt has ever written. "Death by Misadventure," "She Loves the Jerk," "You May Already Be a Winner," and "I Don't Even Try" are as bitterly rueful as Elvis Costello at his most wounded, incorporating a sly, sarcastic sense of humor which prevents the proceedings from becoming self-pitying.