Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lovesong: Ian Hunter: Irene Wilde/Letter from Britannia

I always loved Mott the Hoople; sure there was that 70's trashy excess but they had great tunes and with Ian Hunter, one of the great under-rated front men.
Hunter, once a journalist, also wrote the classic 'Diary of a Rock and Roll Star' which, as a kid, I kept under my pillow with the tissues...
When he went solo he dragged Mick Ronson along from the band's corpse.
Ronson was already a hero of mine, I love his playing on Bowie's 'Hunky Dory', particularly for his restraint and melody. In the 80's he and Nils Lofgren were the ones that I strutted to in front of the mirror with my tennis.
'Ian Hunter' is currently at vol '11' on my player. 
It's been remastered and the memories are flooding back. It's full of rockers, but it is Hunter's ballads that get my ticker. 'Boy' has lost non of its emotional punch and the moment when 'It Ain't Easy When You Fall' segues into the poem 'Shades Off' is priceless; probably what got this writer reaching for his poetry pen; I even notice a line that I've nicked; about "compromising the lack". 
Sorry Ian.

My favourite two Hunter songs though come from the follow up album 'All American Alien Boy' which fought for space on my boarding school hi-fi with 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'
Here Hunter found his jazz chops, using some stellar international players including the bass genius of Jaco Pastorius and David Sanborn's raucous sax.
'Letter from Britannia to the Union Jack' could have been an abrasive rant at the country he'd turned his back on, but is full of reflective sadness and affection for the losses the 'old country' was suffering. 
There's a sadness too (loss of youth etc) to 'Irene Wilde' which is all consuming ("gonna be somebody someday.")
Hunter is 70 now and he's just released a fine, lusty album 'When I'm President'.
It was listening to Bill Fay's 'Life is People' that reminded me of Hunter's albums; they share a voice and a vulnerability, although Fay seems a gentler man... 
I'm sure that the retirement home the'll surely share will be rocking... but gently.

No comments:

Post a Comment