Bypassing 1974's Hanging Around the Observatory and 1975's Overcoats, Y'All Caught? is still an enjoyable collection of John Hiatt's early-'80s material, taking some of the best tracks from albums such as Slug Line, Two Bit Monsters, and Warming Up to the Ice Age. Hiatt's blues-based guitar playing and down-home songwriting wonderfully rises to the surface throughout these 13 songs, spotlighting his material before he took on a more commercial rock & roll sound. The rustic simplicity of songs such as "Love Like Blood" and "Pink Bedroom," the latter covered by Roseanne Cash, is helped along by Hiatt's countrified vocal yammering and the looseness of his guitar strumming. 1979's Slug Line is represented by the title track, as well as "Radio Girl" and the solemn-sounding "Washable Ink," eventually covered by the Neville Brothers. Slightly more poetic and intricate than Hiatt's usual work, these tracks signify a change in his style, with catchier hooks and a slant toward a more modern rock feel. 1983's Riding With the King spawned both the title track and "Love Like Blood," both with the help of musician/producer Nick Lowe. "Riding With the King" was redone superbly almost 17 years later by the tandem of B.B. King and Eric Clapton on their collaborated album. Hiatt's more radio-friendly persona begins to take shape on tunes like "She Said the Same Things to Me" and "The Crush" from Warming Up to the Ice Age, as his guitar playing and lyrical makeup tends to grow flashier, busier, and less laid-back than the material that made up most of his career to that point. In 1987, Hiatt released Bring the Family, one of his best albums, which was where he united blues and rock to perfection, thus starting the second part of his career with a string of successful albums. As far as compilations go, Y'all Caught is a friendly romp through Hiatt's early days and is good to have in the collection.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne