Ian Hunter Buyer's Guide

Introduction

This page is inspired by the Buyer's Guide column in each month's issue of Classic Rock magazine. I hereby acknowledge Classic Rock for giving me the idea, but the work herein is entirely my own.

After leaving Mott The Hoople at the end of 1974 Ian Hunter hit the ground running with the excellent Ian Hunter. Check the cheeky "'Ullo!" at the start of Once Bitten Twice Shy after the "Goodbye"s at the end of Mott's final single Saturday Gigs. He followed this with All American Alien Boy in 1976, a much lighter, more jazzy affair - not what the fans wanted at the time, but demonstrating that Ian was not just a one-trick pony.

He stumbled in 1977 with Overnight Angels, an album full of fast songs but with an over-glossy production and his voice reduced to a too-high 'heavy metal' shriek. With his career seemingly in the doldrums he returned in 1979 with his best-ever album You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic.

The 1980's saw Ian feeling like a square peg in a round hole which may explain the relatively weak Short Back 'n' Sides (1981) and All Of The Good Ones Are Taken (1983). An attempted come-back with the rather good YUI Orta (1989) was scuppered by record company indifference and the album sank without trace.

The 1990's saw Ian effectively starting again following the untimely death of best friend Mick Ronson. 1997 saw The Artful Dodger released on a small independent UK label and Ian playing small venues to often small crowds but gradually built his following back up. The growth of the internet also provided a useful promotional tool as fans could let it be known that Ian was still around.

At the turn of the century Ian was introduced to Andy Yorke (John Mellancamp's guitarist) who was able to put a recording and touring band together for US purposes. The result was the excellent album Rant in 2001. Since then Ian was released a string of consistently good albums and has toured the UK/Europe and the USA. A massive box set in 2016 included not only all of Ian's studio output but more rare/previously-unreleased material than fans believed possible. In 2017, Ian continues to tour and shows no sign of stopping. Long may he continue!

With so much good material to choose from, where does one begin? Well, maybe this guide will help... Of course, chosing just 18 tracks for the playlist is tricky given there's over 400 to chose from. There will be cries of "Why did you include that one?" or "How can you not include this?" Well, perhaps as Ian says in The Artful Dodger: "If you can't take a joke, then 'sod ya'"

Yes, I know I haven't included Fingers Crossed in the Essential/Superior/Good lists. I don't want to fall in to the trap of labelling the latest album as "the best ever!" That said, it really is very good indeed... ask me again in ten years time!

Essential (classics)

Superior (reputation cementing)

Good (worth exploring)

Avoid

Playlist

Track Comment Released on
Once Bitten Twice Shy Lead-off track on Ian's first album and an instant rock classic. Ian Hunter
You Nearly Did Me In Standout track from Ian's second album. Look out for Queen on backing vocals. All American Alien Boy
Cleveland Rocks A nod to the city of Cleveland and Alan Freed, who first coined the term "rock 'n' roll". You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic
Just Another Night A true story about the time (when still in Mott) when Ian spent a night in Indianapolis city jail. You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic
Bastard Ian always described this as a "true love song". Check out the lyric "There's a crisis in the kitchen, but that don't stop your bitchin', you're a bastard". Yup, true love all right... You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic
Ships Heartfelt ballad about Ian's relationship with his dad. You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic
How Much More Can I Take Great rocker, showing that Ian was back in form. YUI Orta
Women's Intuition Ian and Mick sounding more like The Stones than The Stones themselves. YUI Orta
23A Swan Hill Another true story, about growing up in Shrewsbury. The Artful Dodger
Michael Picasso Ian's heartfelt tribute to Mick Ronson. The Artful Dodger
Dead Man Walking (Eastenders) One of the many highlights on Rant. Rant
When I'm President Ian's critique of politicians and their promises: "You go in with the right intent, when you become President... but something happens to you up on the hill, it's business as usual..." When I'm President
Dandy Ian's tribute to Bowie. See how many Bowie songs Ian namechecks (including Dudes)! Fingers Crossed
Girl From The Office Surprisingly, this sweet little song divides opinion among fans. I love it, reflecting as it does factory life in the 70's. Man Overboard
I Am What I Hated When I Was Young Great commentary on the perils of growing old gracefully. The title says it all - Ian looks at himself in the mirror with a wry smile. Shrunken Heads
Fingers Crossed One of the many great songs on Ian's 2016 album. Fingers Crossed
Your Eyes "If I could only see the world through your eyes, it would be a brighter place" Great lyric, great song. Shrunken Heads
Long Time Is this Ian saying "goodbye"? If so, it's a great way to finish. Fingers Crossed

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