Ian Hunter is a rock hero, no doubt. From hitting the scene with Mott the Hoople in 1969, the singer of ‘All the Young Dudes’ has a long and memorable history as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist collaborating with David Bowie, Mick Ronson (leading to the top 40 hit, ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’) and touring with Ringo Starr and his all-Starr band. More recently he’s had a resurgence, touring and releasing albums with his Rant Band. First conceived during the Covid epidemic, Defiance Part 1, featuring a star-studded line-up, and produced by Ian Hunter and his long-term collaborator Andy York will be released via Sun Records on Friday 21st April.
As soon as the title track, ‘Defiance’ begins you know it’s Slash playing guitar. A classic rock track with Slash riffing and Robert Trujillo on bass. Hunter’s voice is mature at 83 but he hasn’t lost it, it’s clear that this album is going to be a treat for fans of the genre. This song has an instantly memorable chorus and echoes of glam rock.
‘Bed of Roses’, the first single (already released) features Ringo Starr on drums, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty, and the Heartbreakers. An epic track with a nostalgic theme, plenty of Hammond (never amiss on a track like this) and a cracking chorus. The pace slows for ‘No Hard Feelings’ featuring Johnny Depp & the late, much-missed Jeff Beck. A country blues feel with slide guitar contributes to a classic slow track. Beck’s solo work is superb and mind-blowing as always.
‘Pavlov’s Dog’ featuring Eric Kretz and Dean and Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots growls and snarls through a cracking rock track, followed by ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ with music legend Todd Rundgren, a complex and powerful rock ballad. Another slow track, a grandiose blues rock epic, ‘Guernica’ features Mike Campbell again along with Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot.
‘I Hate Hate’ then ups the pace. A collaboration with former Mott the Hoople bandmate Dennis Debrizzi and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco gives us a singalong chorus reminiscent of the Glam Rock years. The late Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, Duff McKagan of Guns n Roses and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith join Ian on “Angel”, another slow but sincere track with glorious solos.
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is featured in ‘Kiss N’ make Up’ along with Billy Bob Thornton on percussion and vocals with Taylor Hawkins once more on the drums. Understandably, this track has a bit of a ZZ Top feel, short and sweet. The album closes with the triumphant boogie blues ‘This is What I’m Here For’, again featuring Taylor Hawkins and Joe Elliot, this time adding in the session and touring guitarist Waddy Wachtel.
For a Classic Rock fan, this is a superb example of the genre and a great listen for anyone with a fondness for AOR, glam rock or the blues. Looking forward to Defiance Part Two!
Defiance Part 1 is out Friday, April 21st courtesy of Sun Records.