by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
What an album! The perfect party album, every track takes off
like a locomotive with the brakes off and the wheels rolling freely as it takes
you on an express ride around the frantic world of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the
minds of the people that create this medium.
This album started out as a fun venture in Abbey Road Studios
when Norwegian keyboard player and long time friend of Ian Hunter’s (ex Mott
the Hoople) Casino Steel was going in to record a few numbers with some of his
friends going under the name of Gringo Starr’s All Stars (cheeky little name
if ever I have heard one), knowing that Ian Hunter was at a loose end after just
tragically losing his off sider, main collaborator, and all round good guy Mick
Ronson to the dreaded cancer the previous year (1993), after completing the Mick
Ronson memorial Concerts at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. (The building that
used to be the Hammersmith Odeon may be called many different things due to
commercial reasons over the last few years, but it will always be the
Hammersmith Odeon to me, and one of the finest venues ever to go and see your
favorite band.) All the artists on this album in some way or another took part
in this concert.
Of course in true Rock ‘n’ Roll style when all the
musicians were called together at Abbey Road, a very embarrassed Casino Steel
had to admit he did not actually have any songs to record, but with a band like
this put together and fourteen days booked in the studio, something had to be
done. The band in the studio was Casino Steel, well respected solo artist from
his Norwegian homeland; Ian Hunter (ex Mott the Hoople); Honest Plain John of
the Boys and the Crybabies; Darrell Bath of U.K Subs; Dog’s D’Amour, and The
Godfathers; Vom of Doctor and The Medics, surely one of the most underrated
drummers of his era.
The infamous Blue Weaver took turns on keyboards with Casino
Steel, and holding down the bass guitar responsibilities was a certain Glen
Matlock of Sex Pistols and Rich Kids fame.
In fourteen days eighteen songs were completed, twelve of
which appeared on this fine collection, three of which are Hunter songs, four of
which are Hunter collaborations, and the other five are shared by the rest of
the band. Subsequently the record company asked for a name change and Gringo
Starr’s All-Star’s was dropped for the more original and more amusing “Ian
Hunter’s Dirty Laundry”.
What you get is a hybrid of Rock ‘n’ Roll songs that
sound as if they were written in the sixties and recorded in the nineties by a
band that had been together for three decades not three days.
First song is ‘Dancing on the Moon’ and its title
reflects how the band felt being in this position, total freedom. So let’s
just go out and enjoy ourselves, written in the studio (which is often the best
way to keeping it spontaneous), done in the studio in one take and the band
didn’t know what they were doing at all. Vom just sort of keeps time, because
he didn’t know where to roll as Hunter kept on changing the song as it was
going along. It isn’t a song as such, just something that happened in the
studio whilst fortunately the tapes were rolling. What you are left with is a
great slab of party time Rock ‘n’ Roll that is as fresh as a daisy.
After this we get another rocker in the amusing ‘Another
Fine Mess’, with lyrics from Hunter about the old touring days of the
“Well you say I’m kicking up too much of a fuss.
But twenty-four hours on the bus.
The band’s all moaning, the driver’s slow.
There’s not enough people, too many shows.
Down in the dumps, with the birthday blues.
Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
Then, showing that life is not all laughs and frivolity, we
get the somber ‘Scars’, showing that in all personnel relationships we have
to get through the troughs as well as the peaks. Hunter’s singing of his own
lyrics has never been more poignant.
Of course as soon as this little ode finishes, boys will
always immediately revert to being boys and we get the first non-Hunter song in
the fabulous romp through Darrell Bath’s ‘Never Trust a Blonde’ with
delightful sexy lyrics (not sexist, could be a bloke dying his barnet), a
booming drum beat, raucous backing vocals, tinkling piano, screaming guitar
solos, and a knowing wink to life on the wild side.
To show this really was meant as a band effort, we then get a
jaunt through Honest Plain John’s ‘Psycho Girl’ with it’s jangly guitar
refrain and hypnotic chorus.
The centrepiece of the album is a rolling take on what could
be the follow up to Mott the Hoople’s final single ‘Saturday Gigs’, which
was a look back at the six years of the life of a band, their achievements and
failures. ‘My Revolution’ looks back at the proceeding twenty years, how
things have not really changed that much apart from the slow aging process we
all go through, and how we all think we have become smarter. But that I leave
for you to decide.
‘My Revolution’ does have the knowing lyrics “No one
told our wrinkles what to wear”. The song is brought to a rousing conclusion
very much in “All you need is Love” Beatles style with Ian Hunter adlibbing
lyrics over the top of the fading chorus. ‘Good Girls’, another Honest Plain
John song, could be “The Kinks” from their sixties heyday.
‘Red Letter Day’ is a great Hunter song that he had held
onto for years without ever getting a decent occasion to get it down on tape.
Well, this seemed the perfect time and was a beautiful ballad about returning
home to your loved ones after time spent apart whilst going through rough times,
and the determination to try and make up for lost time. It also includes a
stunning emotional guitar solo from Darrell Bath.
The band then romp through three road songs that most people
would die for to have in their repertoire, each single one would get people
leaping about on the dance floor at a college hop.
Hidden away as last song on this collection is one of Ian
Hunter’s most honest soul bearing laments, ‘The Other Man’, a song about
taking your partner back after an affair with your best friend and how someone
may take the partner back and never forget, but possibly forgive. But not the
Other Man, who should have known better than to mess with your lady. ‘The
Other Man’ has to be one of the best songs that Ian Hunter ever recorded. It
is a shame that it did not get much exposure on its release, as it sure would of
tugged on a few heartstrings and perhaps twanged a few guilt strings in other
“Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry” suffered from very little
fanfare when it came out (although great critical acclaim including one British
journalist, who wrote “In a perfect world we would hear more from pros like
Hunter and less from too many younger lesser talents with too little to say”),
and was very badly distributed by record company NorskPlatproduksjon. They
probably never had such a high quality product on their roster before, and only
let the rights go begrudgingly to different countries over the next two years.
It has only been available on general release for the last couple of years. But
if you are a lover of good, old fashion, honest, basic Rock ‘n’ Roll, “Ian
Hunter’s Dirty Laundry” is something you should pick up and take home.
Ian Hunter - Vocals, Guitar, Casino Steel - Keyboards, Honest
Plain John - Guitars, Vocals, Darrell Bath - Guitars, Vocals, Glen Matlock -
Bass, Vom - Drums, Blue Weaver - Keyboards
Dancing on the Moon, Another Fine Mess, Scars, Never, Trust A Blonde, Psycho
Girl, My Revolution, Good Girls, Red Letter Day, Invisible Strings,
Everybody’s A fool, Junkee Love, The Other Man
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]