Ian Hunter

Fuel 2000 Records, 2001


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Some music you listen to is simple entertainment -- and there's nothing wrong with that. But other times, something special happens. On rare occasions you find music that is so sincere and heartfelt and frank and real that it gives you the illusion of actually knowing the person making it… or at least leaves you with the impression that sharing a couple of beers would qualify as a major life experience.

Such is the case with Ian Hunter and Rant.

Thirty years down the road from the day when Hunter briefly ruled the world of British rock and roll as lead singer for the late great Mott The Hoople, the man still offers every bit of the fire and wit and cranky yet clear-eyed vision that's always illuminated his terrific songs. There's more genuine passion poured out on this sixty-year-old's most recent disc of raw-boned guitar-and-piano rock and roll than you'll find on 99 percent of the discs making the charts these days.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the foot-stomping opener "Still Love Rock And Roll" (just what it sounds like, but better) to the touching closing ballad "No One," Rant feels like nothing less than a masterpiece.

As the title suggests, there are a number of angry tunes here, often directing their spleen at the British homeland with which Hunter shares a love-hate relationship. "Ripoff" in particular serves as a catalogue of everything gone wrong with turn-of-the-millennium England, the bitter rant of one who loves his country deeply and is also completely exasperated by it (kind of like me this election eve). "American Spy" is an equally brilliant rocker whose tart lyric (ex.: "Englishmen don't commit suicide -- they move to the USA") is classic Hunter, full of sharp-edged insights set to a 4/4 backbeat. And "Death Of A Nation" is a richly textured lament that masterfully interweaves the concepts of national pride and individual mortality.

Hunter also fearlessly explores the depths of his frustration at being regarded by the youth-obsessed music industry as over the hill. The deeply funky "Purgatory" layers harmonies into a furious chorus as a synthesizer wails alongside Hunter's seething lead vocal. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, "Dead Man Walkin'" is the soul-baring and surprisingly moving portrait of a faded star, a track that rings with the kind of difficult emotion few artists have the courage to face, let alone expose: "What am I supposed to do now? / Sink to the bottom of obscurity?... If I should lose, if I should win / It doesn't really matter anymore."

Except, it does. It matters to anyone who cares about the real heart of rock and roll, which has nothing to do with prefab top 40 slag and everything to do with pouring your guts out on stage to the beautiful crash of guitar, bass, piano and drums. Rant is full of rough edges, brilliant lyrics, and songs with uncommon substance and resonance -- songs that love and respect and embrace rock and roll as the art form that it can be in the hands of individuals as talented and passionate and committed to their craft as Hunter is.

There aren't many. Cherish them.

Rating: A

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© 2004 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Fuel 2000 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.