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Ian Hunter - 'The Artful Dodger' / 'Strings Attached: A Very Special Night With Ian Hunter' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/0d/83/e0/ian-hunter-the-artful-dodger-97-1445715138.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 24, 2015    
 
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I'm sure many would ready to pay a "few quid" for unearthed gems like these.

It seems 2014 is a year Mott The Hoople fans will remember fondly, as this particular group has been incredibly spoiled throughout the recent months, one Mott-related release after another. It's time they made some space on their shelves again, as the German label MIG (Made In Germany) has decided to treat them with long-awaited re-issues of albums they might have missed or were searching for years to find.

The first Mott-related album to get a long overdue re-release is Ian Hunter's solo album 'The Artful Dodger', originally released in 1996 but reported to be unavailable for many years. This year's re-issue includes eleven tracks that were on the 1996 version – a compilation of Rock, Blues and Country-flavoured tracks with thoughtful lyrics in Hunter's trademark song-writing style. Among them, there are a few highlights of Hunter's solo repertoire, from the nostalgic 'Resurrection Mary' to 'Michael Picasso', the artist's tribute to the late producer Mick Ronson. As for the dynamic Rockers, it's 'Walk On Water' that really shines among them. There is also a bonus track – rare single B-side 'All F%&k Up', a slow-ish Bluesy ballad with pretty "straightforward" (but nevertheless accurate in many cases!) lyrics about a painful break-up. '...Dodger' is a very solid and mature release by Hunter and one that is certainly worthy of re-release.

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Two tracks from '...Dodger' – '23A Swan Hill' and 'Michael Picasso' – are also included on the second release every MTH aficionado should keep on their radar. This one is a live album, entitled 'Strings Attached: A Very Special Night with Ian Hunter' and it's indeed the word "special" that describes it best. Immortalized in 2002, the Oslo-based gig recordings first saw the light of day in 2004 to be re-released again now, exactly a decade later. The choice of the songs will certainly not disappoint the artist's fans, as the two-disc album is the real "greatest hits" package and the best of both worlds – MTH as well as Hunter's solo stuff. The major focus here is on ballads, there's nothing more gritty and Rocking than 'Rollerball' and even the eagerly covered classic 'All The Way From Memphis' doesn't sound as feisty as it used to. This being mostly due to the stripped back, acoustic format of the gig itself; it still doesn't deprive the music of its power, as there are the eponymous "strings" liberally attached – Hunter and his primarily unplugged band backed with the large string section. Its addition gives depth to the particular ballads (think the beautiful intro and instrumental interludes in the opening 'Rest In Peace') as well as strengthens the overall sound of the album. And it can be safely stated even in relation to the most classic part of the set that these staples of Hunter's repertoire, from the nostalgic 'Saturday Gigs' to David Bowie-penned 'All The Young Dudes' and his solo trademark 'Once Bitten Twice Shy', have never sounded better.

Both albums are fine pieces of Rock history, and must-haves for those who worship Mott The Hoople and Ian Hunter – after all, who doesn't remember cheapo wine, the suits and the platform boots... and most of all, the Saturday gigs? We certainly do and what is more, I'm sure many would ready to pay a "few quid" for unearthed gems like these.

Alexandra Mrozowska

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