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Hunter, Ian - 1977 Overnight Angels

ARTIST: Hunter, Ian
ALBUM: Overnight Angels
SERIAL: PC 34721
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2002, Columbia (UK), 506063 2


LINEUP: Ian Hunter - lead vocals, guitar, piano * Earl Slick - lead guitar * Peter Oxendale - keyboards * Rob Rawlinson - bass, backing vocals * Dennis Elliott - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Golden Opportunity * 02 Shallow Crystals * 03 Overnight Angels * 04 Broadway * 05 Justice Of The Peace * 06 Miss Silver Dime * 07 Wild N Free * 08 The Ballad Of Little Star * 09 To Love A Woman


With my review of Mott's, 'Shouting And Pointing' from 1976 you wouldn't be far off to say I preferred Mott over Mott The Hoople, maybe I'm in a minority? Have I got something against Ian Hunter? Well not really and if there is still any sneaking suspicion, I am here hopefully to re-address the balance by looking at Ian's third solo album 'Overnight Angels' from 1977. Again the catalyst here for me, like with Mott was Joe Elliott's Down 'N' Outz project and two songs from that adventure appear on this album, yes they do shine through but there are more songs contained here worth highlighting. While we are talking about Elliott we find his namesake, Foreigner's Dennis Elliott on this album in the position of drummer for hire. Actually this is only a recent purchase for me after buying three others on CD format that make up his first four solo displays over the past year, this one has always been a bit more harder and expensive to buy on that format. So after a year of first spotting a vinyl copy on holiday, I returned to the store to find it still there. As my love affair with vinyl has been re-vitalised I picked up a lovely gatefold edition for as little as 3. Quick mention of the vendor, if you ever visit Bournemouth on holiday, then pop along to nearby Boscombe to a record shop called 'Snu Peas'. Really they don't make shops like these any more, stacked with vinyl and cd's sitting on the counter packed to the ceiling. I've been visiting this shop for at least 20 years and still remember my early visits picking up the likes of Speedway Boulevard and Joe Lamont for peanuts. So, before getting into the tunes, it just remains for me to say that this was the last of a trio Ian recorded with CBS, before jumping ship to Chrysalis and then returning again for the 1983 'All Of The Good Ones Are Taken'. With Ian there always seem to be some conjecture with his age, even as a flick through a 1975 edition of NME Encyclopaedia Of Rock, it questions the 'official' biographies as 1946, while others mention the late 1930's (1939 according to RYM.. Ed). To tell you the truth, this issue like we have with many other celebrities has always bewildered me, surely someone from his primary school, would come forward and say.. 'I sat next to young Johnny in Miss Sidebottom's, 2b class and I remember him pulling my plaits..' Anyway, enough of this and lets carry on!

The Songs
No false starts with 'Golden Opportunity' and along with the title track they are initially the stand out tunes. Beautifully crafted melodic rumpus with lots of opportunities to shout and point like a madman, enjoying themselves far too much on a Saturday night, only regretting it slightly the next morning.

Ian's vocals are straight out of the blocks with the more serene 'Shallow Crystals', which has a very David Bowie feel in the lyrical phrasing. Stirring stuff and the spirit of Boston guitaring, dazzling display by Earl Slick. 'I think you made a mess of my life', Ian's soaring finale just like Aviary.

Big on chorus, big on anthems, enormous display with the 'Overnight Angels', it doesn't even sound like Ian on the early part of the vocals here, mainly due to the vocal effects. Big tie in with the Hell's Angels concept with the artwork displayed in the centre of the gatefold.

Cut down in speed to a piano opening of 'Broadway' which has me partly scratching my head with the direction taken, but is works and captures the passion similar to that displayed on Queen's' Day At The Races'. Not surprising with Roy Thomas Baker at the helm. Only criticism of these more commercial musings being that they are slightly to showy, hence the title suggests, and just at the end it seems to morph into a duet with Kermit The Frog, maybe Ian Hunter was waiting to be invited as a special guest star on the Muppets!

'Justice Of The Peace' is like an outtake by the Small Faces and is typically Hoople inspired. Clever lyrics especially the chorus but is bordering on the line of over comical I'm afraid, like Dog's D'Amour with a sense of humour or after one too many happy pills.

'(Miss) Silver Dime' is the only song written in partnership as Ian's calls upon Earl Slick, after the strange goings on of the above track this is much more acceptable and a very pleasant tune with the slide guitar giving it an Aerosmith feel.

'Wild N Free' is a challenging track because there are really two ways of describing this and both are not that complimentary. You see it's either a 10 minute Meat Loaf effort condensed into 2 minutes, or a 2 minute full blast that you'll find at the end of a 10 minute Meat Loaf epic. Yes a threatening guitar solo, but too fast, too cluttered for an old fogey like me.

However the album closers with another couple of crackers. Take 'The Ballad Of Little Star' which I assume is based on the Native American struggles, as usual like Queen's' White Man', us English are very good at giving out lectures on something we know nothing about, but if you ignore the possible controversy and take the song at face value then it is a lovely gentile track which is slowly becoming one of my favourites. See the link to the cover shot with the feathers in his hair, even before Adam And The Ants made it popular!

'To Love A Woman' seems a strange one, because it seems to merge the opening into a casserole of the Bee Gees and David Cassidy. Moving on, the style really represents the era this was recorded, very commercial, bordering on AOR with a pop inspirational melody, could even go so far as mixing in disco. It is a surprising track, which could easier get lost at the end of side 2.

I understand the CD version does have the great song 'England Rocks' on, which really should be adopted by the England Rugby World Cup squad, but alas I don't think they will do it justice.

In Summary
Of all the Ian Hunter albums I have heard, this is the most consistent and complete. Care free in his thinking of combining styles and genre's and in the main they work. Commercially I'm afraid it was quite a flop, with no single success being one of the reasons, amazing as many of the tunes here could've got Jimmy Saville twitching his cigar, with lots of 'now then, now then, now then' and 'How's about that, then'. At this point, Ian Hunter jumped to Chrysalis and in 1979 recorded 'You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic' which has been issued for its 30th anniversary which is a whole different story relating to Cleveland and even Barry Manilow! Maybe I'll store that one up for another day.

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#1 | Eric on September 13 2011 13:21:08
Good album, still prefer his 1975 debut though...
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