Ian Hunter / The Genius Of Defiance From An Unfashionable Hero

As career-reviving gifts go, the passing of All The Young Dudes, from David Bowie to Mott The Hoople, must go down as the greatest of them all. This is one reason why today we can indulge in Defiance Part 2: Fiction, the brand new album from 84-year-old Ian Hunter.

Ian Hunter – Defiance Part 2: Fiction (Sun Records)

Release Date: 19 April 2024

Words: Brian Boyle

As was the case with last year’s Defiance Part 1, this album is not shy in guest appearances from some pretty hefty names. Actually, that’s an understatement on a grandiose level. 

Ian Hunter has emptied his address book on this one. If there was a rock ‘n’ roll namedroppers paradise, this would be it. 

Ian Hunter - Defiance Part 2: Fiction. Inspiration and enthusiasm flowing like lava.
Ian Hunter – Defiance Part 2: Fiction. Inspiration and enthusiasm flowing like lava.

So, just to scrape the surface of this mouthwatering guestlist, feast your eyeballs on this lot: 

You get Brian May and his beloved Red Special, Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, and Hunter’s global ambassador Joe Elliott also swing by. Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen, The Black Crowes Robinson brothers, and two-fifths of Pearl Jam in Matt Cameron and Mike McCready. 

Even Captain Jack Sparrow (aka actor Johnny Depp) abandoned ship and put his Keith Richards impersonation to good use. 

However, the most poignant inclusion is that of the departed Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins in what proved to be some of their final recordings.

But with all this star-studded inclusion, is it a case of all fur coats and no knickers? Absolutely not. 

The glamourous trimmings are all very nice, but this album is still 100% about Ian Hunter, the songwriter, the well-travelled rock ‘n’ roll storyteller whose musical relevance is still as important after the guts of six decades. 

And, as previously mentioned, Joe Elliott, a man who has enthusiastically flown the flag for Hunter’s music with his Down N Outz side project, chips in with some authentic glam rock backing vocals on opener People, with Hunter’s attitude-laced lyrics still wonderfully poetic.

There’s no mistaken Beck’s contribution on the hugely comforting The 3rd Rail with his always expressive virtuoso complimenting Hunter’s romantic balladry.

This Ain’t Rock N Roll is classic Hunter. No bells and whistles, it is just a three and a half minute masterclass in how to write a simplistic groover.

Brian May playing a bass could be viewed by some as musically unethical, possibly worse than witnessing Elton John strumming a Flying V. Disturbing to imagine, isn’t it? 

But bite your lip, and along with rhythm and lead guitar, he slaps a bit on the infectious pop rock-driven Precious, helped along the way by Taylor Hawkins’s flawless rhythm and another vocal shift from Hunter fanboy Elliott.

Although they say age is only a number, but, at four score and four, this man’s inspiration and enthusiasm is showing zero signs of dwindling. In fact, it’s flowing like lava. 

The stomp and shuffle of Kettle Of Fish and the southern folk humour of Weed are far from signs of a man in a hurry trying to fill up his discography and eager for the armchair and slippers. 

Take Hope, for example. If that had come out of the pen of a Dylan, a Waits or a Springsteen, it would be shouted from the mountain tops by blinkered critics as a work of genius, which it is. 

But Hunter doesn’t sit at that table and most likely doesn’t give a monkey’s. 

This album is yet another celebration of rock ‘n’ roll’s most unfashionable hero. 

Sleeve Notes

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