Jimmy Buffett's popular success with "Margaritaville" tended to silence the criticisms of the music industry he had expressed on such albums as Living and Dying in ¾ Time (e.g., the plea for airplay that was "Saxophones"). But by the time he released his 15th studio album, Hot Water, in 1988, Buffett had been off the radio (even as his concert revenues steadily increased) for a long time, and he was ready to complain again on the LP's lead-off track (and, amazingly, its single) "Homemade Music," which began with the declaration, "I ain't no video king." The homemade music on the disc, featuring a long list of session musicians and star guests (Steve Winwood, Timothy B. Schmit, Grover Washington, Jr., the Neville Brothers, James Taylor, Rita Coolidge), tended more toward funky jazz-pop than some other Buffett releases, and, as usual, there were a few well-written songs and at least one stellar cover, longtime Buffett favorite Jesse Winchester's "L'Air de la Louisiane." (South African singer/songwriter Johnny Clegg's "Great Heart" is another good song, too, of course, but Buffett's claim on it seemed tenuous.) "Prince of Tides" was a partially recited musical rendering of the Pat Conroy novel of the same name for the literarily inclined singer, while "Pre-You" was a cute lyrical idea. But also as usual, Hot Water was uneven, with some songs that seemed just rote, resulting in another half-baked effort that didn't seem to justify its demand for popular recognition.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann