Ian Hunter

Live In 75

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Rock'n'Roll Circus, the label apparently devoted to making sure every legend in the Mott the Hoople catalog gets heard by the people who need it, just keeps on getting better. Recorded at Detroit's Ford Auditorium on April 28, 1975, Live In 1975 isn't simply the one of the best quality recordings existing of the first (and finest) Hunter-Ronson tour, it's also a reminder of one of the great white hopes of the pre-punk 1970s. The pair quit Mott just three months before this tour kicked off. Ronson had already completed work on his second solo album, Play Don't Worry, Hunter would have his eponymous debut on the shelves before the first British gigs in March, and, with a live show which highlighted the best of both, no way were Hunter-Ronson going to disappoint. But still the concert experience was stunning -- both at the time and reliving it so many years later. The sound is ropey, but history and hi-fi have seldom been regular bedmates, and the album needs to be played loud to really make its point. But dynamic versions of the best bits from Ian Hunter include a surprisingly effective "Boy" and some classic Ronson histrionics through "Truth." And though the closing salvo of oldies looks predictable, the rearranged "Roll Away the Stone," slowed to funereal pace and awarded a whole new intro, wipes the floor with any just about any other version either Hunter or Mott ever performed. At the London show, both Mick Ralphs and Ariel Bender joined the group onstage for this one, and that was a sight to behold -- here, we get the Hunter-Ronson band alone, but it's still utterly spellbinding. ~ Dave Thompson

"Dudes," too, lives up to every superlative that has ever been thrown at the best song David Bowie ever wrote, but the real revelation might well be Ronson's contributions, a sparkling solo-fired "Angel #9," and a straightforward, but still superlative "Slaughter." It's not, perhaps, the equal of the version preserved on 1979's Welcome To The Club official live album, but it's a gem nevertheless.

Of course, Hunter-Ronson never fulfilled the extraordinary potential which brought them together in the first place -- one, it seemed, wanted to go play with too many other people; the other, regrettably, wanted to go off and write too many lousy songs. But when they were together, in fiery full flight, there were few other double acts to match them. And in 1975, they weren't simply flying, they were scraping the sky.

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