An Album For All The Old Dudes Out There.
While I loved the Mott The Hoople (or Moot The Hopple as some infamous graffiti once called them) I was never a big fan of their albums; or indeed what I’ve heard of Ian Hunter’s vast and varied solo career.
That said I was still a little bit excited when this album dropped on the hall carpet.
It’s always been difficult to quantify where Hunter fits into Rock’s Great Pantheon, as he found fame as a Glam Rocker, but was always a hairy and hoary old Rocker at heart with a singer-songwriter’s Soul; and that all combines at last on Fingers Crossed.
Opening track That’s When The Trouble Starts finds Hunter offering sage advice to (possibly) his younger self or more likely the hoards of bands that look to him for advice; and I guess when sung on stage there will be more than a few ‘raised eyebrows’ and ‘knowing winks’ as he sings “It looks so easy/aint nothing to it/fast forward/anyone can do it” and “You think you’re cool/you think you’re wicked/but….you’re 50 shades of stupid!”
So very, very true; isn’t it?
I was pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of the acoustic-Rock ballad Ghosts; written after a recording session in Sun Studios, it’s deeply passionate and even reverent as Hunter recounts the greats, whose footsteps he is following in.
Just when you think you are in for a Rocking good time, Hunter throws a couple of curve balls to confuse but still entertain the listeners.
Bow Street Runners has a mighty fine melody and beat but is a story of the the very first police force in London in the 1700’s. When I read what it was about I’d presumed, wrongly that this could be a ‘finger in the ear’ Folk Ballad; but Hell No! Hunter sings along to an almost Mott The Hoople punchy/Glam melodic line.
The title track, Fingers Crossed is a similar hybrid; being another story based in the 18th Century; but this articulate seafaring tale certainly isn’t a sea-shanty but as solid a slice of Americana as you will hear.
While he’s lived in the US of A for nearly half a century now, Ian Hunter has never lost his West Midlands annunciation; even if the voice is more than a little bit cracked and ragged around the edges; but that just serves to make songs like Stranded in Reality and Long Time; which closes the disc a solid air of authenticity and authority in equal measures. Without knowing Ian Hunter’s back story; his voice would let you know this guy has lived a life, well lived.
As I implied at the beginning this has been an album of surprises that has constantly pleasantly surprised me; especially the song that has received a lot of media coverage….Dandy.
The opening stanza comes straight from Mott’s glory days, as does the feel of the song itself; and Hunter’s slightly tongue in cheek love song to and for his long time friend David Bowie is absolutely beautiful; slipping in loads of less than subtle references to the Thin White Duke’s songs and ‘style’.
But…..it’s not actually my favouritist song here!
No; that title goes to You Can’t Live in the Past; with it’s pseudo-reggae lilt. It’s an unbelievably clever ‘simple song’ that can be deciphered in many ways; with everyone from aspiring Rock Stars to heartbroken lovers will interpret it to suit their own needs.
He’s knocking on a bit; but Ian Hunter can still write a damn fine and literate song. There may not be a fire burning in his belly; but this album proves that the embers are still smoking hot.
Released September 16th 2016