Mojo (UK)

Leader of the pack

Mott’s irrepressi­ble old dude sounds in fine fettle on a starstudde­d set of collaborat­ions.

- By James McNair.

Ian Hunter ★★★★ Defiance Part 1 SUN. CD/DL/LP

“I AIN’T THRULWhen I’m thru I’ll notify you,” sings Ian Hunter. As obits of our beloved rock luminaries accrue exponentia­lly, this is cheering news. Eighty-four in June, Mott The Hoople’s sunglasses-clad Peter Pan had to cancel his 2019 US solo tour due to severe tinnitus, but as Defiance Part 1 makes abundantly clear, he won’t be going gently – or depressedl­y – into that good night. The first of two new LPs giving the middle-finger to ageism and retirement (we’re told Defiance Part 2 may also arrive in 2023), this is a buoyant, celebrator­y affair. Or as Hunter puts it: “This is what I’m here forLMight as well enjoy it.”

His enthusiasm­s are shared by a diverse supporting cast including Ringo Starr, Slash, Jeff Tweedy and Todd Rundgren. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Hunter’s since-departed pals Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins also appear on this lockdown labour of love/homage, the guvnor’s unflashy-but-neverpedes­trian songwritin­g and playful, glass-halffull lyrics still quite the draw. Bed Of Roses sets the mood, Ringo’s drumming and former Heartbreak­er Mike Campbell’s slide-guitar driving a song nostalgic for rock’s glor y days – and seemingly some of the trimmings.

As he breezes through his ninth decade, Hunter’s husky rasp – ever the acceptable-face of blokey bonhomie – is also in fine fettle. Agile and playfully pulling against the beat on the Rundgren-appointed pop-soul of Don’t Tread On Me, robust and punchy on the Jeff Tweedyaide­d ear-worm I Hate Hate, it also conjures

the much-missed spirit of Mott on piano-led street symphony, Angel, wherein we’re told “It’s hard to kiss an angelLThey got halos and the harp is always getting in the way.”

Though the flurry of file-sharing and diversity of recording environmen­ts that projects like this one tend to involve may have robbed Defiance Part

1 of a certain cohesion, even a weaker song like No Hard Feelings has the consolatio­n of two show-stopping Jeff Beck solos. Elsewhere, too, Slash, Stone Temple Pilots’ Dean DeLeo and Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford bring their best game. Perhaps knowing that Hunter shared so many stages with Mick Ronson will do that to a guitarist.

“People say people my age shouldn’t be making records,” Hunter has said. With his mind still agile, his piano playing still on top form and his voice still strong, Defiance Part 1 makes a nonsense of that. At 83, Hunter also sounds much more starry-eyed about rock’n’roll than he did in Diary Of A Rock’N’Roll Star, his lauded, famously candid account of Mott’s 1972 US tour. Now ain’t that refreshing?

 ?? ?? Ian Hunter: buoyant, celebrator­y and defiant.
Ian Hunter: buoyant, celebrator­y and defiant.
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