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Crate Digger’s Gold: Ian Hunter – All American Alien Boy

January 30, 2016


Ian Hunter is famous for fronting Mott The Hoople and this album is famous because of its bass player Jaco Pastorius. I recently saw the documentary Jaco and was reminded that Jaco appeared on this album. I had never listened to the album and it was not on Spotify so I made a mental note to pick up the LP if I ever saw it. I recently found a clean LP at The Electric Fetus for $1.99.

The year was 1976 – a heady time for Pastorius. That year he debuted with Weather Report, was a prominent voice on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, released his solo LP Jaco Pastorius and appeared on Ian Hunter’s All American Alien Boy.  Pastorius work on All American Alien Boy is unremarkable compared to the significant voice he is on Hejira. I am not sure I would even detect him on album (although he is prominent on the titular cut) if I didn’t know he as there. But once you know he is there, it is exciting to hear him in a straight ahead pop context. He seems comfortable being a side man here.

But enough about Jaco, this Ian Hunter’s album. This is a piece of ambitious 70s jazzy pop. I don’t have a lot of context for Hunter beyond Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes” and Hunter’s one solo hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”  His voice reminds me a bit of Bowie, Dylan and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd – just to name a few.  Hunter is the master of several credible rock and roll voices.

The LP opens with “Letter to Britannia From The Union Jack” which is an odd start as it sounds like nothing else on the album – it almost sounds like a mellow George Harrison song.  Lyrically it is an interesting literary device:  a flag imploring its country not to do something to half-mast it.

Next comes the titular song.  It is a playful song that creates a great platform for Jaco to do a nice show-off solo and for sax player David Sanborn to do the same.  Hunter is in his best Bowie voice.  The song ends with some great horn work and female vocalist stealing the show.

“Irene Wilde” is a ballad of unrequited love.  It has a kind of Billy Joel feel (Piano Man era).

“Restless Youth” is plain old rock and roll and I like it.  The lyrics are bit preachy.

Side Two opens with “Rape” a epic sounding piece with a mighty chorus. Another  set of preachy heavy handed lyrics.

“You Nearly Did Me In” opens with a great David Sanborn sax solo.  Hunter sounds like Bowie. Like several songs on the album it has some great backup vocals – this time voiced by a little band named Queen.

“Apathy 83” is the most prominent Jaco playing on the album outside of the titular track’s solo.  This song reminds me of Rod Stewart fronting Springsteen’s E Street Band.

The LP ends with “God (Take 1) which could easily be an outake from Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks.

I came to this album out of “Jaco curiosity” and discovered a pretty darn good LP on its own merits. My favorite songs are well produced with great instrumentation and strong backup vocals – the kind of arrangements that could make me sound good.  I like that Ian Hunter has several personas to his vocals.  This should be an easy album to find in the crates and I recommend you snag it. It does take several listens to fully appreciate, so don’t dismiss it on the first spin.

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One Comment
  1. I missed this one back then but have the ones that surround it. Im familiar with a few of the tunes. The Jaco thing sounds interesting.. Really like Hunters music.

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