Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 

Allo

1975 was very much a watershed year for me, I was 14 my hormones were going ape, just as they should, I gave up swimming competitively when the the call of the skirt, beer and music got too loud and I could no longer ignore it. It was the year that I saw my first concert, by the year end I was regularly making trips to the west end to catch a gig, much to the chagrin of my parents. That very first concert was at my school, Forest Gate High, and was not by some big name band or up and coming Winnipeg but was and end of (school) year disco with some of my teachers performing together, if my memory serves me well cover versions, one song that they played blew me away it was 'Once Bitten Twice Shy'. The following day I heard the song again on the radio as it was the then current debut solo single from Ian Hunter. I thought I was in love, this was really what it was all about from his opening Essex wide boy greeting of 'Allo' through to the songs boogie climax. Let's just say that I have never looked back. I have since that day had a soft spot for Mr shades and curly locks, I hope there is no need for me to give a history lesson as of course Ian Hunter was the front man of that most Americanly British of rock bands Mott The Hoople. That debut album in 1975, recorded with Mick Ronson, was quickly followed up the following year with the classic 'All American Alien Boy' where Ian's voice shone through on what we would call today power ballads. The following years saw albums of differing qualities and styles including 1981's 'Sort Back And Sides' produced by Mick Jones, of the Clash not Foreigner, who as a lad was a big Mott fan. After passing his wilderness years the new century has seen a fine return to form with 2001's 'Rant'.


Ian is still very much a touring artist, I guess you could say that he has paid his dues many times over. In 2004 he even got round to playing a couple of dates in France including a stop off at my favorite venue , Motpellier's Rockstore, June 6, the only problem was this was a Sunday and so for some unexplainable reason I missed it, actually my working day starts a 6a.m. and so Sunday's it's early to bed for me. Still something I'm still kicking myself to this day for not making more of an effort. I was therefore more than happy when someone recently provided me with a recording of the gig. It is four songs from that show that I'm sharing with you today, this also heralds my first attempts at digital editing, you have been warned! The concert was made up of a healthy balance of old and new, Mott The Hoople and solo. The second song of the set was the one that got all of those boyhood memories rushing back, 'Once Bitten Twice Shy', while it will always remain a favorite of mine this live versions lacks the pacing of the original. This was quickly followed by a fine reading of 'Irene Wilde' where Ian's voice is in fine form for this excellent ballad, with guitar that in places reminds me of Bob Marley's 'No Woman No Cry' provided by ex Mott and ex Bad Company Guitarist Mick Ralphs . The set terminated with an old Mott number 'Roll Away The Stone', I've kept in the songs false start as I find it adds to the charm, after all guitar heroes are human. Their final song before they grabbed some sleep was of course 'All The Young Dudes', again I hope there is no need to go into the songs history. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.
Just to prove that this post is topical, CBS have just released 'Journey' a career spanning retrospective from the Mott The Hoople days until 'Rant' and spread over three CDs for the rather modest sum of 15 quid. The four songs posted today can be found on this album in their original form.
Last Monday while talking about Wreckless Eric we mentioned his book, well Ian is also the author of a classic tome on music 'Diary Of A Rock 'n' Roll Star' that was originally published in 1974. It is a very down to earth and realistic no holds barred account of a Mott The Hoople American tour during five weeks at the end of 1972. Such is the esteem for this book and it's legendary status that it has been republished in 1996 and is still available today. Q magazine in a typically over the top way have described it as the 'greatest music book ever written' what I would say is that it is a must for all true music lovers.

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