Ian Hunter Band featuring Mick Ronson: Live At Rockpalast (2012)
Musicians: Ian Hunter – guitar, piano, vocals; Mick Ronson – guitar, mandolin; Tom Morrongiello – guitar; Martin Briley – bass; George Meyer – keyboards, saxophone; Tom Mandel – keyboards; Eric Parker – drums
TrackList: FBI; Once Bitten Twice Shy; Angeline; Laugh At Me; Irene Wilde; I Wish I Was Your Mother; Just Another Night; We Gotta Get Out Of Here; Bastard; All The Way From Memphis; Cleveland Rocks; Slaughter On 10th Avenue
Studio: MIG Music 904409 DVD [2/21/2012]
Director: Christian Wagner
Audio: English PCM Stereo
Video: Color 4:3
Length: 74 minutes
From the years 1968-1974, Mott The Hoople had a significant impact on the English rock scene. With talented songwriter/lead singer Ian Hunter and guitarist Mick Ralphs, the group produced a jagged rock and roll sound. After the departure of Ralphs, Mick Ronson joined the band. Ronson arranged for David Bowie, heading up the vaunted Spiders From Mars. Bowie produced the MTH album, All The Young Dudes in 1972 which yielded the hit, title cut. After the group disbanded, another emerged, aptly named the Hunter Ronson Band. While Ronson would play for various artists (Bowie, Morrissey, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed Roger McGuinn and John Mellencamp), he would collaborate and arrange for Hunter, whose songwriting and singing acumen kept growing.
In 1980, supporting the new release, Welcome To The Club, the Ian Hunter Band, recorded a live concert for the WDR Rockpalast series at Grughalle, Essen, Germany. The band rocked out with a set of material covering Hunter’s impressive career. The sixth Rockpalast broadcast showcased a cohesive, hard rocking band. Without any audience patter, the group played their brand of rock and roll with confidence and unpretentious determination. Opening the set with an instrumental cover of the eclectic 1961 “FBI” by The Shadows foreshadowed an unpredictable evening of music. The under-appreciated catalogue of Hunter was represented with several tracks. “Once Bitten Twice Shy” (from Ian Hunter) introduced the sunglass-clad singer in suit and tie as the band countered his perceptive vocals. Ronson is a gifted guitarist who plays with passion and dexterity. From the “new” album, “We Gotta Get Out Of Here” incorporates the keyboards and dual guitars in a punk, driving rhythm. A percolating version of “Just Another Night” (You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic) explodes with intensity. A crowd pleasing “Cleveland Rocks” (known to some as the theme of the Drew Carey TV series) is rambunctious and “Bastard” is loaded with grooves and hooks (especially on clavinet).
Hoople fans can rejoice as the band offers three numbers from the iconic band. “All The Young Dudes” captures the stylized glam-rock attitude. A pumped up version of “All The Way From Memphis” raises the roof in rock and roll chaos. The harmonica-tinged “Angeline” exudes a raunchy folk aesthetic (mid sixties Dylan). There are changes of pace with a romantic ballad (“Irene Wild”), as Hunter switches to piano. The finale is a stunning cover of the 1936 Richard Rogers Broadway opus, “Slaughter On 10th Avenue”. Ronson’s guitar work is masterful, as he plays eloquently under a lone spotlight.
The audio quality (PCM Stereo) is surprisingly clear with good separation. The camera work is straightforward, albeit with some repetition. Hunter and Ronson were a formidable duo in the annals of rock (Ronson passed away in 1993). Ian Hunter Band Featuring Mick Ronson Live At Rockpalast is a valuable document of that collaboration.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.