2 September 2012. Ian Hunter is 73-years-old and has been a fixture in the world of rock and roll for 50 years. From playing in beat groups and blues bands in the 1960s through to international mega-stardom in the 1970s with Mott The Hoople, Mr ‘Unter has seen it all and packed more into his life than most.
You might think he would be taking it easy with some Horlicks and perhaps a Werthers Original or two. Well he isn’t ready for the comfy chair, and shows no sign of slowing down at all if this new album, ‘When I’m President’, is anything to go by.
IAN HUNTER AND THE RANT BAND
‘When I’m President’
Release Date: 3rd September 2012
Words: Michael Foley
Backed by his excellent backing group, The Rant Band, Hunter has put together eleven new songs for the album, and as one would expect from a man of his experience the songs are of a consistently high standard. The subject ranges from heartfelt and romantic, as on the Dylanesque ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, through to the political commentary of ‘When I’m President’ itself.
One particular highlight is ‘Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)’, which is told from the point of view of the old warrior as he looks back on a time of innocence, and then the horrors wrought upon him and his people by the white men in the Indian Wars. With it’s haunting refrain of “Never surrender”, it could be seen as a metaphor on Hunter’s own life; the veteran rocker looking back on the changes in the musical world.
I find that the tone of the album is very personal as Hunter is not afraid to hold back on sharing his thoughts and emotions with the listener. ‘Black Tears’ in particular is a very moving song detailing the heartbreak involved the breakdown of a relationship. Those of us who has had a love affair or great friendship end in tears and acrimony will empathise with this song.
‘Fatally Flawed’ shows Hunter looking inwards at his own faults and explaining that, like any man, he is not perfect.
So the album packs an emotional punch, but this is lightened by Hunter’s customary humour, as on the title track, where he really lays into the history of broken promises made by US Presidents, and then makes us laugh with this great line: “When I’m President, pigs are gonna fly… Look at ’em!”.
The music itself is very much traditional rock and roll, and as far as I am concerned that’s no bad thing. If your are at all familiar with the classic albums by The Band, early Rod Stewart, and Mott The Hoople strangely enough, you will have a very good idea of the sound of this album. It’s a superb mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, with no auto-tune whatsoever on Hunters vocals.
The voice is a little more cracked than it was 40 years ago, but by God, this man can sing. If good singing means having passion, commitment and soul, rather than sheer technique, then Ian Hunter is one of the great rock vocalists. True, he sounds mature, but he sings in tune, and he sings it like he means it, and that’s what’s important.
To be honest I thought this album was going to be the last gasp of a has been rock-star, but it’s far from it by a long way. The youngsters might think they know it all, but they don’t. Ian Hunter does, so listen to him.
To quote another great rock and roll survivor, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away”. True, but if your name is Ian Hunter, then you do neither, and just keep on keeping on.
It’s another album to be added to the list of recent super albums by ageing rockers, such as those by Dylan, Springsteen, McCartney and Robert Plant.
I love my music to be passionate, soulful and meaningful, and therefore I love ‘When I’m President’. I hope that you do too.
BTW he still looks as perma-shadedly cool as ever. What a dude!
- Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman)
- Fatally Flawed
- When I’m President
- What For
- Black Tears
- Just The Way You Look Tonight
- Wild Bunch
- Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)
- I Don’t Know What You Want