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Archive for November 12th, 2014

Variety Is The Spice: Varese Serves Up Ian Hunter, Ray Price

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Ian Hunter - All AmericanUpon his departure from Mott the Hoople, frontman Ian Hunter wasted little time in establishing a solo career. His first, eponymous solo album in 1975 yielded the single that made Hunter’s name as a solo artist, the original version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” Recorded at George Martin’s AIR Studios, “Once Bitten” boasted Hunter’s old cohort Mick Ronson as arranger, guitarist and co-producer, and the track made it all the way to No. 14 on the U.K. chart. (Great White’s 1989 cover version belatedly earned Hunter a hit in the U.S. when it reached the Top 5.) Though “Once Bitten” was Hunter’s only hit U.K. single as a solo artist, his fellow musicians were taking notice. Hunter’s star-filled next album, 1976’s All American Alien Boy, has recently been reissued by Varese Sarabande’s Varese Vintage imprint in a newly-remastered edition which also adds six previously-issued bonus tracks including the unique single version of the title track.  (Thanks to all who entered our recent contest to win this fantastic title!)

Recorded at New York’s Electric Lady Studios, All American Alien Boy saw Hunter joined by jazz greats David Sanborn and Jaco Pastorius, as well as Mothers of Invention drummer Aynsley Dunbar, Blood Sweat and Tears’ Lew Soloff and Dave Bargeron, and even Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen! Messrs. Mercury, Taylor and May can be heard, along with Sanborn, on “You Nearly Did Me In.” (An early version of the song sans guests, “Weary Anger,” is another of the bonus cuts here.) Though Mick Ronson didn’t appear on the album, Chris Stainton was brought onboard as a creative foil for Hunter, and supplied the evocative organ work on the Side Two opener, “Rape.” Aynsley Dunbar’s drums shine on “Apathy 83,” and though jazz great Jaco Pastorius brought his signature bass to the whole album, he also stepped up on lead guitar for “God (Take 1).” Soloff and Bargeron, of the Blood Sweat and Tears horn section, brought their powerful brass to the epic title track.

To quote from that band, however, what goes up must come down. Despite the strength of its material and the impeccable musicianship, Hunter’s sophomore effort failed to match the success of its predecessor. In the U.S., the Columbia Records release only reached No. 177 on the Top LPs chart, a far cry from the No. 50 scored by Ian Hunter. Varese Vintage’s reissue restores the original American cover artwork for All American Alien Boy, and also boasts a Columbia replica logo on the CD itself. This reissue happily retains the six bonus tracks released for the album’s thirtieth anniversary edition in 2006. Full lyrics and credits are provided in the new booklet along with liner notes from Larry R. Watts. Steve Massie has remastered the LP.

After the jump: more on Ian Hunter, plus the news on a collection of rarities from Ray Price! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 12, 2014 at 09:50