There are very few artists who actually get better in the second act of their career, and even fewer who improve in the third. Ian Hunter is one of those artists.
After his 70s success, 80s decline and 90s partial retirement, his return to solo work in the 21st century has always been good, and sometimes brilliant (check out 2009’s Man Overboard and 2012’s When I’m President for evidence). And outside the recentish Mott The Hoople reunions, Hunter has been outstanding live, his shows displaying a man who is literally older and wiser.
2004’s Strings Attached is one of his best, a two-disc set recorded in Stockholm with a band and large string section. Drawing on Mott and solo oldies – more importantly, recent songs like the Mick Ronson tribute Michael Picasso and the triumphant told-you-so 23A Swan Hill – Strings Attached sees Hunter combining passion with compassion, energy with grace and, on his version of the oldie A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, a surprising delicacy and tenderness. Without exaggeration, this is one of the best live albums of all time.