Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Ian Hunter - Fingers Crossed (2016)

Then we took the last bus home....


Released September 2016


1. That's When The Trouble Starts
2. Dandy
3. Ghosts
4. Fingers Crossed
5. White House
6. Bow Street Runners
7. Morpheus
8. Stranded In Reality
9. You Can't Live In The Past
10. Long Time                                                          

Ian Hunter released this at 77 years of age, remarkable in itself. That this great man is releasing material at this age is an inspirational thing. I bought my first piece of Ian Hunter's music at fourteen years old, in 1972, and I have stuck with him ever since. His music has been with me for actually most of my life, certainly all my adult life.

Viewing his music objectively, it has always been a bit hit and miss in places. Genius and magical, moving moments mixed with some run of the mill stuff. That has always been the way with Ian and I. However, both this and his previous album, "When I'm President" are the best of his later-era albums. This one is the best of the two. There actually isn't a totally duff track on the album. "That's When The Trouble Starts" kicks the album off with a Stonesy-style riff, grinding rhythm and some gruff, cynical Hunter vocals. The voice is ageing and clearly now has a few limitations, but what the heck, he can still ride with the power of this solid rock chugger. Fair play to him.

"Dandy" is a difficult concept of a song. It was written after the death of David Bowie by Hunter about his old seventies cohort. It could run into maudlin territory, and, in places it does but when you hear that seventies glammy riff kick in and Hunter sings "you turned us into heroes...." and "there ain't no life on Mars.... and then we took the last bus home...." he just nails what was impossible to nail. Then we took the last bus home. That line just sums it all up. 1972-73 in one line. To hear Ian Hunter singing this all these years later make me quite emotional. "I guess I owe you one..." he sings on the fade out. I guess so.

"Ghosts" is an excellent, bassy, thumping rocker, possibly one of the best cuts on the album. Hunter ruminate on the rock stars lost to drugs. "Standing in a room full of ghosts...". A song that is actually as sad as "Dandy" in many ways. The title track is another good one, a typical Hunter slow burning emotional rock ballad. "White House" is a great rocker as too is "Bow Street Runners" an unusual song about the early London police force. "Morpheus" is an evocative piano-driven slow number of the type that Hunter always does so well. Listening to the guitar solo on this, it is just so seventies, it is so good that Hunter has not moved with the times at all. He is a creature of the seventies. Good for him. So am I.

"Stranded in Reality" begins with some very U2-ish guitar and a rhythmic bass line. It has a great backing but the song itself is just a bit so-so. "You Can't Live in The Past" Ian tells us on the next track, played over a late seventies Police-style white reggae groove. The thing I love about Ian Hunter albums is that they allow me to live totally in the past. "You can never go back.." sings Hunter, as I sit here getting extremely nostalgic just listening to him. His voice, the way he delivers the songs, it just takes me straight back to the mid-seventies. "Long Time" is a lively, folky romp of a singalong number to end on. Again, it is drenched in nostalgia. Thanks for the great trip, Ian.


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