Ian Hunter - 'The Singles Collection 1975-83'

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Ian Hunter - 'The Singles Collection 1975-83'

A great compendium of Hunter’s more commercial work.

I guess everyone knows the story by now, but back in 1974 Mott The Hoople appeared unbeatable. With sell-out tours on both sides of the Atlantic and major successes in both the albums and singles charts the foundations for global domination had been laid; and with the addition of David Bowie’s former partner Mick Ronson to the line-up in place of the flamboyant but erratic Ariel Bender in September 1974 the band seemed set to join the pantheon of greats. But then it all unravelled… In November Ian Hunter collapsed in New York, all remaining tour dates were cancelled, and although now it all appears so contrived (for example, Hunter withdrew the planned B-side ‘Lounge Lizard’ for what became Mott The Hoople’s final single and included it on his first solo album) when the singer/guitarist/pianist came out of hospital it was as a solo artist, with Ronson his lead guitarist.

From 1975 to 1983 Hunter had a successful career, releasing seven albums before seemingly vanishing off the face of the earth. In that time he worked off and on with Ronson – contractual obligations scuppered any plans for a permanent relationship – who figured highly on the comeback ‘YUI Orta’ album at the end of the Eighties. This double CD lovingly brings together the thirteen UK singles from those early days, starting of course with that single one-word intro to ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ (one of the few single edits that’s almost, almost as good as the original album cut and which of course was later bludgeoned into submission by Great White) and rounding off with ‘Somethin’s Going On’ eight-and-a-half years later.

Obviously, by it’s very nature this collection doesn’t hang together like a traditional album; but it’s a great compendium of Hunter’s more commercial work and it’s interesting to track the changes in his style and influences (without having to get up and change the record over every four minutes!) as the years pass. Probably the best coupling is the third and final single from the ‘You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic’ album, ‘Cleveland Rocks’ b/w ‘Bastard’. The A-side is an exciting up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll call to arms (and can be contrasted with ‘England Rocks’, a single from his previous album ‘Overnight Angels’) while the track on the flip shows Hunter at his biting, visceral best. Conversely, you’d have to be a true fan to actually enjoy the Eighties’ reggae pop of ‘Lisa Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll’ from the ‘Short Back ‘N’ Sides’ album which was co-produced by Hunter fan Mick Jones of The Clash; bizarrely – and I say that because it’s terrible – this was the only Hunter album to do better in the States than in the UK.

But two CDs and two hours after you’ve first pushed ‘play’, the thing you’re still most likely to remember is that single one word that launched Hunter’s solo career back in 1975. All together now: “’Allo!”

John Tucker

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