1Recorded at Hammersmith Odeon, London 22nd November 1979
2Recorded at Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley CA 7th July 1979
3Recorded at My Fathers Place, Long Island NY 12/13th June 1979
4Recorded at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco CA 26-28th October 1981
1Recorded at Rock and Roll Heaven, Toronto ON 11th November 1987
2Recorded at Rock and Roll Heaven, Toronto ON 11th June 1988
3Recorded at The Caberet, San Jose CA 16th December 1989
4Recorded at Hammersmith Apollo, London 29th April 1994
5Recorded at The Robin 2, Bilston UK 19th May 2000
6Recorded at The Life Cafe, Manchester UK 19th May 2002
1Recorded at The Life Cafe, Manchester UK 19th May 2002
2Recorded at The Bikini, Barcerlona Spain 12th June 2004
3Recorded at SxSW, Town Lake Stage, Austin TX 18th March 2005
4Recorded at Nidaros Blues Festival, Kongressal, Trondheim Norway 29th April 2005
1Recorded at Nidaros Blues Festival, Kongressal, Trondheim Norway 29th April 2005
2Recorded at the Lowry Theatre, Manchester England 23rd February 2008
3Recorded at The Journal Tyne Theatre, Newcastle England 11th October 2010
4Recorded at John Dee, Oslo Norway 8th October 2012
5Recorded at Memorial Hall, Sheffield England 20th March 2013
6Recorded at Garden Shimokitazawa, Tokyo Japan 16/7/8 January 2015
Recorded at The Mick Jagger Theatre, Dartford, Kent 2nd March 2008
It was 2013 when fans were first teased with "coming soon... the ultimate Ian Hunter box set". Well, over three years in the making and what was originally going to be a 24-disc set is now a 30-disc whopper. And yes, it has been worth the wait.
OK, so what's in the box? Well there's every (regular) album that Ian has ever released, with the exception of 2016's Fingers Crossed and 2004's live double The Truth... Every album has been remastered, in some cases with bonus tracks (eg single edits) that haven't appeared on previous issues. Each is presented in a mini-LP replica sleeve, complete with an inner sleeve (for the CD itself) and a booklet. Sound quality is excellent throughout.
In addition, there are a further nine discs of rare and previously-unreleased material. There is an acoustic gig (Acoustic Shadows) from 2008, which is an interesting contrast to the (also acoustic) Live In The UK 2010 disc (also included here). Two discs of rarities (Tilting The Mirror) gather together bonus tracks that have appeared on "bonus CDs" on previous releases. Bag Of Tricks gather together various live tracks recorded over the years, including the 2002 Manchester gig that was previously thought to be "lost". It neatly showcases the last 30 years of live shows, from Toronto in 1987 through to Sheffield in 2013 and Tokyo in 2015. Fascinating.
Then there's If You Wait Long Enough... which included for the first time the 1979 Hammersmith Odeon gig. OK, an hour of this show was broadcast on BBC Radio One but this is the full show (nearly two hours!) and an improvement on the original BBC mix. We also get a 1981 show recorded in San Fransisco. This is interesting because it features Robbie Alter on guitar and Mick Ronson - on keyboards!
Experiments is fascinating. These are demos and (complete) unreleased tracks from the past thirty or so years. Look Before You Leap is a great power ballad (is that Ronno on guitar?), while Salvation (written in 1997 but not recorded until 2008) is a great way to close the collection. Ian has said it would be on his last record, and Proper's track listing has Experiments as the last disc... if this is really the last one (and Ian says it's not) then there's no finer way to finish.
Then there's two DVDs. The first is a motley collection of promo films, TV appearances and concert clips from the past 40 years. Disc 2 includes the 1979 Rhyerson Theatre show from Toronto which was broadcast on TV and has circulated amonst fans for years. There's also the Ian Hunter Rocks show from 1981, previously only issued on VHS (and Laserdisc). Then there's the Strings Attached show from Oslo in 2002. This has two tracks not included on the original DVD and a great way to round off a fascination collection.
There is also a lavish hard-cover book which presents a biography of Ian's career so far, together with a track-by-track run-down of all the material in this collection, with Ian's (at times) brutally honest opinion. The book ends with tributes from a whole host of fellow musicians, all of whom are unstinting in their praise. Whorrabloke!
There is also a replica music paper, which contains reproductions of album and gig reviews from the past forty years. Finally, there is an Alien Boy-era lithograph (why don't they call it a photo?), signed by Ian.
The whole is presented in a large presentation case, complete with Escher-inspired artwork.
The whole collection is limited to just 2500 copies and (I'm told) none of the (extra) discs will be available separately.
The cost is a whopping £250. This collection, therefore, is not aimed at the casual fan but the dedicated IH fan (albeit one with very deep pockets). Given that such a fan will already own most if not all of the regular discs, this works out at £250 for the just nine "new" CDs and two DVDs. Whether this is worth the cost is a question for the individual fan to answer.
Ian has said his career isn't yet finished (he turned 77 in 2016!), but if it were to end now this set is an excellent way to bring the curtain down on the career of one of Britain's finest-ever rock stars.
OK, this is supposed to be everything that Ian has ever done (since leaving Mott The Hoople at the end of 1974). But there are a few omissions, mostly of live material. This is to be expected with a project of this magnitude but let's face it - including them all would have meant this being close to a massive 40-disc whopper...
The 30th Anniversary issue of You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic included a bonus disc of live tracks. Although the Hammersmith tracks are included (as part of If You Wait Long Enough For Anything, You Can Get It On Sale) the rest have been omitted.
Although some tracks from this rare live CD are present, most have been omitted.
The 1998 issue of All American Alien Boy included a rare version of Rape with a couple of lines from (Gene Kelly's) Singin' In The Rain in the intro. That version has not been on subsequent issues, and has been omitted here.
There were three live tracks (recorded some time in 2007) on the single of When The World Was Round. Two (Once Bitten Twice Shy and Twisted Steel) were on the CD-single; one (Words (Big Mouth)) was on the (7-inch) vinyl single. These have all been omitted.