The majority of my album reviews are heavy rock/metal but when i was asked to review Ian Hunter’s latest album, When I’m President i was delighted as i grew up with early 70’s music , an era when his previous band Mott The Hoople were in their heyday. After the first play of When I’m President, i had made my mind up that it is my album of the year. Nothing comes close to these 11 lovingly crafted tracks. The album is an emotional roller coaster as it twists and turns between feel good, introspective rock and some beautiful, heart wrenching ballads.The lyrics are a major highpoint, a sure sign of career longevity.
It is hard to believe that Ian Hunter is 73, such is the quality of the material here and his voice has stood the test of time with that distinctive rasp still there! His back up musicians, the Rant Band are no slouches either, previously having worked with Wings, Joe Cocker, Patti Smith, John Cale and John Mellencamp. When I’m President is Ian Hunter’s 20th album of original songs and is the first release since the Mott The Hoople reunion shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 2009. It will be released on September 4th via Proper Records, a very apt name.
So onto the music as Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman) comes in with an almost AC/DC type riff . A wall of saxophone courses throughout with periods of boogie woogie piano over an unmistakable Ian Hunter drawl. In complete contrast, Fatally Flawed begins with gentle keyboards as a lone guitar picks slowly into a crooning opening vocal ” The flaw was in your sacred heart, biding it’s time till you played the wrong card “. After the chorus of ” Oooo they never fade away, oooo they don’t fade away “, the rest of the band crash in as the song ends with a poignant ” You lost your makeup, you were scrambling on the floor. Looking for something, you ain’t got anymore”. The title track follows and is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It is an uptempo pop rock song with a classic guitar hook over an almost pleading vocal. What For continues in the same rocking vein with a more aggressive vocal and a scorching guitar solo from Mark Bosch. Black Tears is a soulful number of lost love with a hard hitting opening vocal of ” Black tears, vulnerable veneers, just another weapon in your arsenal of fear” as a searing guitar solo cuts in midway. Next track, Saint rides in on a tempo similar to Springsteen’s Glory Days with some glorious melodies punctuated by flute flourishes. Personal highlight Just The Way You Look Tonight, strides in with a mandolin that dominates this feel good uptempo ballad with an almost Bob Dylan vocal delivery of opening lyric ” I fell in love with a working girl, we both grew up in a working world. Julie Christie jaw full o them pearly whites, just the way you look tonight “. Wild Bunch has a shuffle beat similar to the Faces with rock and roll guitars and bar room piano with a refrain of ” We shall gather by the river, we shall gather by the river and beat up on the Wild Bunch” to the tune of Glory Glory Hallelujah from the American Trilogy. Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse) is another standout track. It’s Red Indian theme over a wardance tempo begins with a stripped down vocal lyric ” All i need is a feather, all i need is a stone. All i need is a shadow to follow me home “. The rest of the song contains a powerful vocal documenting their struggle against the white man. I Don’t Know What You Want is an Aerosmith style number but with a lot more conviction with a gruff lead vocal and backing doo wop vocals. Closing number Life is a ballad to end all ballads and it would take the coldest heart not to be grabbed by it. The gently picked guitars and strings come second to a poignant vocal delivery containing lines such as ” Some of us are born rich, some of us ain’t got a tent to pitch, most of us just get by ” and ” When you’re down remember that, it’s all water off a duck’s back, and laugh because it’s only life”.
No matter what your taste in music, When I’m President is indispensable!
Ian Hunter And The Rant Band line up :-
Ian Hunter – Acoustic guitar/lead vocals.
James Mastro – Guitar/mandolin/electric 12 string guitar/acoustic guitar.
Andy Burton – Keyboards/accordion.
Steve Holley – Drums/tambourine.
Mark Bosch – Electric guitar.
Paul Page – Bass.
When I’m President album track listing :-
Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman).
When I’m President.
Just The Way You Look Tonight.
Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse).
I Don’t Know What You Want.
I award When I’m President 10/10!.