Mott the Hoople’s not-so-young dude is back…
Released on Proper Records on 16 September 2016 and reviewed by Martin Stanyer
Ian Hunter, one of rock’s greats, Mott the Hoople’s main man, and always one of the Young Dudes, has delivered his solo album, Fingers Crossed. Opener ‘That’s When The Trouble Starts’ which has a proper rock n roll groove. From the start you can tell what a great songwriter Ian has always been and always will be. The voice is gravelly but delivers with the right attitude. This is the kind of song I’d be happy listening to in a blues bar, smoking a Marlboro and drinking a bottle of bud. It’s slick, it’s cool and it brings a swagger to your step.
‘Dandy’ is a fitting tribute to David Bowie, and obviously there is a history between both artists. Beautiful and touching lead guitars set the tone for this rather poignant track. There are many references to Bowie, such as ‘There ain’t no life on Mars’, but its rather tastefully done. The piano in the background keeps the song flowing. The song is so good you could even imagine the great Thin White Duke duetting on this one. It conjures up many emotions and for anyone who’s a fan of Bowie this track is a must listen.
‘Ghosts’ starts off with some great acoustic guitar, simple chords being strummed but giving great impact. Hunter’s voice carries a very eerie and unique touch, singing about the pyramids and the lap of the gods. Lyrically the most superior of the album so far, and this is after all only track 3. The guitar solo is tasteful not overplayed and fits the nature of this song.
Title track ‘Fingers Crossed’ is a more laid back vibe, reminiscent of the Stones in the 70s. This is good music, this is what music should be about, great story telling that you can relate too, there’s a sublime quality to this record and the more I hear the more I fall in love with it. As a fan of good song-writing this is a standout track.
‘White House’ has a very Americana feel, it’s probably one of the weaker songs compared to the others, but still stronger than anything that hits the charts, it’s got a nice guitar riff, its simple and effective.
‘Bow Street Runners’ is where things pick back up, ‘London town is crumbling down’ croons Hunter, Flourishes of acoustic guitar light up this song, and a really nice bassline lay down the basis of this track. It’s an anthem and its cool, there’s some nice organ that plays over in the back, Hunter really setting this track alight.
‘Morpheus’ a piano led number with a great country vibe, quite spectacular, haunting and epic. This song is touching, Hunters vocal delivery is as great as ever, passionate and each word pronounced.
‘Stranded in Reality’ nice guitars start this off with a U2 feel, it’s another anthem that drops down to acoustic guitar and what seems to be tasteful use of the delay pedal. The over play of the word Baptism before coming back to the chorus is great, a rather splendid piece of work that sees this record growing ever stronger. The guitar work on this track is awesome especially when moving to the bridge with the heavy use of distorted chords.
If ever there was a truer title for a song, ‘You Can’t Live In The Past’ is it. A very ska backing guitar, and a different direction, the lyrics are spot on, the song flows, and there are some elements of Bowie that shine through on this track. Maybe you can’t live in the past, but the past can live on in you.
‘Long Time’ is the records closing song, taking me right back to that bar where I was smoking and drinking. A good bluesy number that wants to see you having a good time and watch the world go by. It’s got a bit of Dylan to it, it’s a drunken sing along song, you could be anywhere in the world.
Fingers Crossed was a journey for me. I felt like I got to know Ian Hunter through this record. I felt a connection because great song-writing does that. I’m sure though that David Bowie would be very proud of Dandy which was nothing short of a great tribute. Mr Hunter is more than a relevant musician and I would recommend anyone having a listen to this masterpiece and great lesson in song-writing.
10 out of 10
- That’s When The Trouble Starts
- Fingers Crossed
- White House
- Bow Street Runners
- Stranded In Reality
- You Can’t Live In The Past
- Long Time