Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ian Hunter

  • Ian Hunter [Columbia, 1975] B
  • All-American Alien Boy [Columbia, 1976] B-
  • You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic [Chrysalis, 1979] B
  • Shades of Ian Hunter: The Ballad of Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople [Columbia, 1979] A-
  • Man Overboard [New West, 2009] Choice Cuts

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ian Hunter [Columbia, 1975]
"Once Bitten Twice Shy" and "I Get So Excited" are rockers as primo as any but the greatest Mott the Hoople songs, and as a bonus the latter is about something besides rock and roll. Hunter and coproducer Mick Ronson's passion for that subject is justified by the rest of the music, even the poetry-with-rock episode. But Ian should remember that it's a mighty long way down rock and roll, because as your name gets hot your heart gets cold. Then your name gets cold. B

All-American Alien Boy [Columbia, 1976]
The concept fails. Hunter isn't even a one-star generalizer, and he obviously lacks that rare knack for the political song, though the bit about needing both the left wing and the right to fly is sharp (and scary). Yet the attempt at protest is gratifying, at least as honest as it is confused. At odd moments the music kicks a line like "Justice would seem to be bored" all the way home; "Irene Wilde," a throw-in about young love, is a small treasure; and "God (Take 1)" is nice Ferlinghetti-style doggerel. So while I can't recommend, I kind of like. B-

You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic [Chrysalis, 1979]
Six winners out of nine on this mini-comeback, and he doesn't seem to be straining, either. But that's not entirely a blessing--the musical territory is conventionally good-rockin', and only on the gnomic "Life After Death" and the second verse of "When the Morning Comes" does he reconnoiter lyrically. The titles of the bad songs--"Bastard," "The Outsider," and "Ships" (in the guess what)--are warning enough. B

Shades of Ian Hunter: The Ballad of Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople [Columbia, 1979]
Exemplary discophilia. The Mott 45s on side one are all the young stiffs--great album tracks edited down for an AM exposure that was rarely forthcoming, they race along with an almost punky punch on LP. The B sides and miscellaneous on side two are uneven, natch, but worth getting to know (as owners of Greatest Hits have already learned with two of them). Those circumspect enough to have passed up Ian's two solo albums are now rewarded with side three's best-of. And side four excerpts the solo Ian that was never released here to impressive effect. A genuinely obsessive compilation. A-

Man Overboard [New West, 2009]
"Girl From the Office" Choice Cuts