by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
After the critical success of Hunter’s previous solo
album, “All American Alien Boy”, 1976, but commercial failure, Ian Hunter
decided it was time to get a proper band to record the follow up album. But
before a band was put together and after a chance meeting in a late night New
York bar, Ian Hunter had made a deal with famous American producer Roy Thomas
Baker (“Rolling Stones”,” The Cars”, and most famously for giving
“Queen” that smooth sound) to do his next album, which was a good start.
Miller Anderson had recommended the services of bassist Rob
Rawlinson, who, after the break-up of yet another line-up of “Chicken
Shack”, was looking for a worthwhile cause to ply his trade. Ian Hunter had
long admired the skills of “The Glitter Band’s” talented but underused
keyboard player Peter Oxendale, so he was coerced away by not only being given
the keyboard role, but that of musical director.
Dennis Elliot had been a long time friend of Ian Hunter, so
in a schedule break with “Foreigner” he moonlighted on the drum stool for
the sessions only to be replaced by the time the band went on the road by one of
the true wild men of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Curly Smith.
Finally a new guitarist had to be found, and while in America
and looking for a Rock ‘n’ Roll guitarist ... why not go for the best? Earl
Slick, who had just finished sessions with David Bowie on his ‘Station to
Station’ album, was brought in, if you like, as the icing on the cake.
With the band ready and the songs written, the band went into
Le Studio Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada, with the intention of laying down a
classic Heavy Rock Ian Hunter album as a re-action to the lightweight ‘All
American Alien Boy’.
Three days after recording started the house that Hunter had
rented for his band’s entourage to stay in, caught fire, completely gutting
the building leaving all the occupants escaping with their lives but little
else, including musical instruments (shades of “Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on
the Water’). Both producer Roy Thomas Baker and engineer Gary Lyons were
hospitalized and were still feeling the effects of their ordeal during the
recordings that followed. So it is not surprising there is a bit of a dramatic
edge to all the songs.
The set opens with ‘Golden Opportunity’ in barnstorming
fashion, commencing with a lengthy instrumental section, which takes various
interesting twists and turns allowing Slick to show off his guitar playing,
(slick by name and slick by nature), before settling into the main tempo and
pattern of the song. As the guitars bring the song to a shattering conclusion,
Roy Thomas Baker shows why he was in such demand as a producer. He wonderfully
goes seamlessly from one song into another by going straight into the Hunter
lyrically acidic piece ‘Shallow Crystals’, Ian Hunter’s criticism, laid
firmly at the door of some unfortunate in his past.
Next comes Hunter’s Tour de Force. In the title track one
of the finest and heaviest tracks ever laid down in the studio, the opening
creeps in with some muted power chords and some sonic drumming before the whole
band comes crashing in with Hunter ranting over the music.
“Charged by the light of some Mariners lantern,
Spitting out coals with triangular sparks,
Can’t you hear the scream of the Overnight Angels as they
The song rocks along in fine style with plenty of guitar
pyrotechnics from Earl Slick and studio wizardry from Roy Thomas Baker as he
switches the guitar and vocals from one speaker to another. No wonder the song
was taken as the main theme to the horror Movie ‘Asphaltnacht’.
Immediately following this was the beautiful ‘Broadway’,
Hunter’s ode to all that is good about the music scene in America. After this
the album’s single comes rollicking in, a nifty little song showcasing the
abilities of Peter Oxendale. It was selected as “Sounds” single of the week
back in those heady days of 1977. ‘(Miss) Silver Dime’ would also have made
a fine single apart from it’s obvious storyline, which would have made it
impossible to get any airtime on the government controlled radio stations.
‘Wild ‘n’ Free’ with its pace of a runaway locomotive
and its marked return to ‘Brain Capers’ era “Mott the Hoople”, is the
song that demonstrated to the emerging New Wave of Punk Rock that their debt to
Ian Hunter and “Mott the Hoople” was un-questionable, and they had a long
way to go to catch up with Hunter’s biting, cynical lyrics, and wild, raunchy
‘The Ballad of Little Star’ is a loving tribute to Native
Americans. ‘To Love a Woman’ closed the album in uncharacteristic style for
Hunter being a simple Pop/Soul flavored love song, a very pleasing ending.
Columbia Records have just seen fit to re-release
‘Overnight Angels’ and a fine job of re-mastering they have done too, giving
the original recordings an extra shine and clarity. Plus, tacked onto the end as
a bonus track we get the last ever recording by the Overnight Angels, ‘England
Rocks’. We all know what a little monster that turned out to be, when it was
changed to ‘Cleveland Rocks’ and put on Ian Hunter’s following album
“You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic”. It was later used as the theme
song to ‘The Drew Carey Show’, but here you get it in its original brash
short sharp shock version.
Ian Hunter - Guitars, Piano, and Vocals
Earl Slick - Guitars
Peter Oxendale - Keyboards
Rob Rawlinson - Bass
Dennis Elliot - Drums
Justice of the Peace
(Miss) Silver dollar
Wild ‘n’ Free
The Ballad of Little Star
To Love a woman
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]