Surely the legend that is Ian Hunter needs no introduction, from the heady days of Mott The Hoople through a varied and (in my humble opinion) very under-rated solo career spanning over twenty albums. Although most remember such songs as ‘All The Young Dudes’ or ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’, Mott albums like the rarely heard but very good Brain Capers from 1971 or solo efforts like All American Alien Boy which had members of Queen adding backing vocals and Jaco Pastorius on bass bringing a different edge to Ian’s rock, are worthy indeed.
Now into his seventieth decade as a performer, Ian has a new album out called Defiance Part 1 and his standing in the rock community is reflected in the stellar list of guests. Not many artists could attract such luminaries as Ringo Starr, Johnny Depp, Jeff Beck, Todd Rundgren, Joe Elliott, Slash, Duff McKagan, Robert Trujillo and – in one of his final recordings – the late, great Taylor Hawkins.
Ian’s voice has aged like a fine whisky and his lyrics still carry the humour and bite they always have… witness title track, ‘Defiance’ with Slash adding some beautiful runs, Trujjilo’s solid and atmospheric bass as Ian shows his smoky voiced defiance throughout. A very high quality slice of rock to introduce a superb modern/retro rock masterpiece. The slide work from Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and Ringo proves (yet again) what a great drummer he was and is on ‘Bed of Roses’: a Petty-like composition but with Ian’s character stamping his authority over it all.
There isn’t a weak track here, but my current favourites have to be the dreamy ‘No Hard Feelings’ with the much missed Jeff Beck playing a brilliant solo (and Beck’s recent co-star, Johnny Depp). The ballad that out ballads many a ballad, ‘Angel’ with Taylor Hawkins, Duff McKagan and Brad Whitford backing Ian’s perfectly paced vocals. ‘Kiss N’ Make Up’ has hints of Mott but, with Taylor Hawkins, Billy Bob Thornton & Billy F Gibbons guesting it becomes something very special indeed.
Ian wrote all of the songs and played piano throughout making this a true solo album and yet that impressive guest list has each adding a hint of their own personalities that make all ten tracks a genuine highlight. It’s not heavy rock but it does rock and is a testament to Ian’s abilities as a writer and performer that such a disparate guest list seamlessly fits with his unique style and approach. I cannot wait for Part Two.
Defiance Pt1 is out on 21st April.