What’s The Rockbrat Listening To Today ? IAN HUNTER & THE RANT BAND – When I’m President (2012)

_presidentThankfully, I only have a few rock n roll regrets.  Not making the effort to see NY Loose and The Reverend Horton Heat at the Bottom Line in NYC was one, nor bothering to venture out on a wet and cold Sunday night in London to see Motorhead and Girlschool was another, (instead going for the easy option of a 5 minute walk to The Tigers Head for a few jars of Guinness and a late night kebab).  Not going to see the Mick Ronson Memorial concert though in 1994, well, that’s something I now regret. Exactly one year after his death following a long battle with cancer, an all-star concert was staged at London’s prestigious Hammersmith Apollo theatre in tribute to Ronno. Among those performing were long-time musical partner Ian Hunter, The Spiders From Mars (alongside Mick Ronson, they were David Bowie’s backing band in the early 70’s), Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Roger Taylor (Queen), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Bill Nelson (Be Bop DeLuxe), Willy And The Poor Boys (Gary Brooker, Andy Fairweather-Low, Bill Wyman), Steve Harley and many others. I do remember that ticket prices were bloody expensive, and that was probably the reason for not attending, but looking back, I missed out on the opportunity to see the great Ian Hunter on stage. At 73 years of age, and having never toured Australia, that there was the moment I should have embraced. I still do however have an autographed Mott The Hoople album I picked up for a bargain price at a Soho record store though J. Oh well, life goes on.  So it’s early 2013 and I’m listening to his latest album, “When I’m President”, coincidentally a day after Obama’s second term of office begins. Man, this is one SUPERB album. His work with Mott The Hoople aside, Hunter has released 20 odd solo albums. His 2001 album, ‘Rant’ would be my all-time favourite Hunter album, although his 1995 effort ‘Dirty Laundry’ (with Darrell Bath and the great Honest John Plain in his band) running a close second.  His last couple of solo efforts, ‘Man overboard’ and ‘Shrunken Heads’ had their moments, but were patchy at best. Nothing inconsistent about his new album though, with “When I’m President” now up there as one of my top 3 Ian Hunter albums of all time! In one word – it is quite simply – superb. Forget the fact that he is now in his early 70s, he is creating simply INSPIRED rock ‘n’ roll of the highest quality. Sheesh – some poor old buggers at his age are sitting in wheel chairs with blankets on their laps waiting for the next day’s bingo. Here’s a guy who is creating killer rock ‘n’ roll that would blow away all and sundry. Hunter is a master craftsman, whose talent for penning memorable tunes is pretty much unsurpassed. I always thought he should have done an album with McCartney. Of the 11 tunes on this album, all bar one score a green tick. That’s right, 10 out of 11, 90.9% on the Rockbrat scoring scale. My favourite tune on this album has to be ‘The Wild Bunch’, a musical tribute to the Peckinpah movie from 1969 starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine (also one of my top 10 westerns of all time).  The tune segues nicely into “Shall We Gather At The River”.  “Just The Way You Look Tonight” with its likeable use of mandolin, is a catchy tribute to Mr’s Hunter (and also features his daughter Tania on vocals). Nice.  The mid tempo rollicking ‘Comfortable’ is a greater album opener, whilst the introspective ‘Fatally Flawed’ is pure, stark and simply stunning. The solo on this tune rips and tears. Talk about contrasts. Introspective verses / crashing guitars on the chorus’ with Hunter singing his heart out. The album’s title track, ‘When I’m President’ presents a range of possibilities if the listener was in the White House. This is another catchy tune dripping in Hunter’s unique style of storytelling. Why isn’t this top 10?  With its bluesy shuffle riff, ‘What For’ is resplendently draped in Mott The Hoopleisms or classic era Faces – only better. It has a sing along chorus, catchy riff and is an out and out toe tapper that will see you cranking the stereo up. Again, bitchin’ solo, and again, Hunter singing his heart out. The dreamy ‘Black Tears’ is utter song writing brilliance from a man who is at the peak of his craft.  With its clever lyrical delivery (blue eyes to green eyes, green eyes to sad eyes, sad eyes to red eyes, red eyes to black eyes) it has an emotive quality all its own. Brilliant. ’Saint’ with its mid tempo charm, is a good example of the Ian Hunter sound. Catchy chorus, distinctive voice, intelligent lyrics.  With its Stones-like swagger, ‘I Don’t Know What You Want’ again ranks high. Further evidence on Hunter’s genius and talent as a song writer is on Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse), which tells the story of Crazy Horse, chief of the Sioux. Musically, it subtly utilises Indian drumming and guitar effects, but lyrically, it’s like sitting down reading a book about Crazy Horse. Not many writers have the ability to paint a picture both lyrically and musically – Hunter has it in spades, (as he always has), but with ‘When I’m President’, he has taken it to a higher level.  Hunter (who turned 74 in June) is three years older than Paul McCartney. It’s a pity that Macca is no longer releasing original, quality and relevant music. Maybe he should take a listen to Shropshire’s finest for inspiration. Who are today’s rock stars that the kids are jumping to ? Dave Grohl? Nickelback? Please. Don’t make me puke. I’ll take Ian Hunter ANYDAY chum.  He is currently on tour in the US. Buy it here.

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