"He tackles wars, political turmoil, crime and weather, in another compelling affirmation of his irrepressible muse": Ian Hunter shows no sign of erosion on Defiance Part 2: Fiction

A weightier second helping of Defiance from Ian Hunter in a star-studded, covid-era purple patch

Ian Hunter: Defiance Part 2: Fiction cover art
(Image: © Sun Records)

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‘Defiance’ perfectly describes Ian Hunter as he approaches his 85th birthday. Firstly against the ageing process that shows no sign of eroding his chops, spirit or the eloquently poetic yet laceratingly confrontational spark that placed him among the UK’s finest songwriters over 50 years ago. It could also be against being stigmatised as a nostalgia act, when he’s always decidedly more concerned with making his next album than repackaging old ones. 

Defiance Part 1 arrived in April ’23 as an uncontrived selection from the prolific composing spree Hunter embarked on during 2020’s covid lockdown, songs farmed out for home embellishment by a hefty roll call starting with Ringo and Jeff Beck. Transcending perilous star-guest syndrome while keeping the mood buoyant for desperate times, it attracted the best reviews of his seven-decade career, most praising his songs and performances. 

Hunter says he saved “the little more serious” stuff for Part 2; “My take on what’s going on” including wars, political turmoil, crime and weather, in another compelling affirmation of his irrepressible muse and unique standing in rock.

Aided by co-producer Andy York and the telepathic Rant Band, Defiance Part 2: Fiction boasts another flotilla of unobtrusive guests, including Beck and Taylor Hawkins playing final sessions, Mott keyboard player Morgan Fisher, Brian May and assorted members of Cheap Trick and Def Leppard, plus Lucinda Williams enabling Hunter’s first recorded duet. 

An old-school 10 tracks include several melody-enhanced rockers trying to make sense of modern life, including hook-laden People, May-festooned Precious, uproarious Everybody’s Crazy But Me, and infectious Fiction pumped by Fisher’s piano and garnished with strings. Slow-grind legalisation-call Weed and menacing antipollution Kettle Of Fish rail and reason through his voice of experience. Those trademark intimate ballads shine again on startling subway tragedy The Third Rail, Beck uncurling dramatic punctuation, and What Would I Do Without You reaffirming Hunter’s love for wife Trudi with Williams’s counter vocal, closing the set with Hope’s widescreen optimism. 

When this writer first met Hunter he had just commenced harnessing his Tin Pan Alley songwriting apprenticeship to Mott The Hoople. That he’s still honing his craft 55 years later and already talking about Defiance Part 3 is quite remarkable. As Hunter himself declares on This Ain’t Rock And Roll: ‘They don’t make ’em like that any more.’

Kris Needs

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!