Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ian Hunter Remains Defiant

The legendary Ian Hunter releases his eagerly awaited new album, Defiance Part 2: Fiction, via the Sun Records label on Friday 19th April.

Defiance Part 2: Fiction, follows last year’s critically acclaimed Defiance Part 1 and boastsone of the most dazzling all-star line-ups ever committed to record, including such close friends to Hunter and lifelong fans as Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, and Tom Petersson (members of Cheap Trick), Brian May (Queen), Lucinda Williams, Dean DeLeo, Robert De Leo, & Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots), Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Johnny Depp, Billy Bob Thornton and J.D. Andrew (The Boxmasters), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Dylan), Waddy Wachtel (Stevie Nicks, Jackson Browne), David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, T Bone Burnett), Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith), Steve Holley (Wings), Morgan Fisher (Mott The Hoople), and – in what proved to be among their final studio recordings – the late, great Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters). Additionally, for the Record Store Day Vinyl the special guests on two tracks include: Mike McCready and Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam), Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes).

The 10-song collection will be available on standard vinyl, CD, and as a digital download. A limited edition 2LP vinyl edition of featuring 3 bonus tracks will be available exclusively on Record Store Day, set for Saturday, 20th April. It features an original cover painting by Depp –and includes the just released electrifying first single, ‘Precious’, featuring Taylor Hawkins on drums, Joe Elliott on background vocals and instantly identifiable guitar from longtime mate Brian May (who began his own road to superstardom when Queen supported Mott The Hoople on their blockbuster 1974 tour of the UK and North America).

“We got on really well with Queen,” said Hunter. “When you’re in a band you can get really bored with each other but they were just normal blokes, it was like being on the road with nine guys instead of just five. Freddie was hilarious and I’ve kept up with Brian to this day.”

Ian Hunter has stood in the spotlight for nearly seven decades, from fronting Mott The Hoople and his renowned partnership with Mick Ronson to his internationally lauded 21st century renaissance with The Rant Band. The Defiance project came together in 2020 as Hunter worked on new songs in his Connecticut basement alongside his longtime collaborator, guitarist/producer/multi-instrumentalist Andy York. With quarantine rules in effect, longtime manager Mike Kobayashi and famed rock ‘n’ roll photographer Ross Halfin suggested Hunter reach out to some of his friends and fellow artists to fill in the tracks. A spectacular selection of stars immediately agreed, building out Hunter’s demos with their trademark talents.

Defiance Part 1 was hailed by the likes of Classic Rock Magazine and Mojo, and now with Part 2, Hunter, again boasts a historic roster of guest artists while evincing a harder lyrical edge and denser musical approach. Having long used his voice to explore and examine contemporary issues, Hunter is once more pointing his passionate pen at a society seemingly more out of control with each passing day.

“I was trying to avoid all that on Part 1,” Hunter said, “but on Part 2, it caught up with me. Most of those were written two or three years back, so I wanted to get it all out before whatever takes hold in November. It would be dated after the fact.”

Songs like the legalisation anthem ‘Weed’ – featuring Stone Temple Pilots’ Dean DeLeo (guitar), Robert De Leo (bass), and Eric Kretz (drums) and the epic ‘Fiction’ – with keyboards from Mott The Hoople’s Morgan Fisher and a stirring string arrangement from David Mansfield (Bob Dylan, T Bone Burnett) – are full of righteous fury and vibrant spirit, Hunter’s perspective and gift for protest music as clear-eyed and independent as ever. “I’m neither left nor particularly right,” Hunter added. “I’m just straight down the middle. And so, I tried to write from that point of view. An eagle has two wings and if one falls off it perishes. That’s what I’m trying to get at. A bit of common sense, you know, Thomas Paine stuff.”

Countless highlights abound through the album, from a pair of irresistibly crunchy rockers (‘People’ and ‘Kettle Of Fish’) featuring three members of Cheap Trick to the raw, emotional ‘What Would I Do Without You’, the latter seeing Hunter sharing lead vocals with Lucinda Williams – the first duet in his extensive canon.

“Lucinda and her husband came to one of my shows in Nashville,” Hunter said. “I love her voice, there’s something very childlike, and you just know it’s her straight away. You don’t forget that voice.”

Much to his surprise, Hunter is currently hard at work writing songs for a third instalment in the Defiance project. Though born from expediency and quarantine, the communal nature of the series has proven a remarkably fruitful creative path for Ian Hunter, still another collaborative milestone in his indefatigable journey through rock ‘n’ roll.

“I never initiated this,” Ian Hunter commented. “It just kind of just happened and it turned out great. So I’m going to write some more songs and we’ll see what happens again.”

Defiance Part 2: Fiction can be ordered here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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