During the 8 years of the Bush presidency many veteran rockers, like Jackson Browne and the Eagles, put out anti-war, anti-government protest albums damming the actions of that government administration. None of them were as poignant or lucid as the trifecta of albums delivered by elder-statesman and british rocker Ian Hunter. With three post millennium releases, Rant in 2001, Shrunken Heads in 2007, and Man Overboard in 2009; Hunter eloquently captures, in no particular order, the 5 stages of grief over what he referred to as “the death of a nation”. His discontent was not solely aimed at the U.S., but also Britain and the other minions that found an easy way to exploit and cash in on uncertain times and circumstances. What he’s really riling over in these three records is the breakdown of a generation that was given a great gift from those who came before them and who squandered and drove that privilege into the ground not only for themselves, but for their children as well. Hunter comes to terms with his changing philosophy and ideals, as he sees the world through different glasses than the ones he wore as a younger man in the 60s and 70s.
This is some heavy stuff, but Hunter sweetens it with the musical grander he is so well known for. There is plenty of style, hooks and jangle in these records. Hunter pulls out tricks and treats so old that they sound like lost relics from Mott the Hoople. Hard driving rockers intertwined with wistful ballads create a thoughtful inspiring sound which is a fresh relief from today’s manufactured pop symphonics.
“Nothin’ matters anymore
The rich get richer, and the poor get sorer
You took our loyalty and you tore it to shreds
We’re all the mercy of shrunken heads”
In the 1970s, Rory Gallagher was the hardest working man in music, releasing 10 albums, two of them live, and touring almost non stop. He was voted Melody Makers top musician in 1971, and for a brief moment, wore the mythical “best guitarist on earth” crown. Courted by the Rolling Stones to be their second axe following Mick Taylor’s departure from the band, none of all-that mattered to Gallagher who was a writer and a craftsman and would go on to inspire many Irish rockers to follow. His hard working schedule had no time for the sex and drugs that normally fueled bands of that day. He was driven by perfection and his love of American blues and folk music.
Today’s Runner, Deuce, is one of two great records Gallagher released in 1971. It clocks in at 52 minutes. Enjoy!
James popularity peaked in the UK after the success of Seven. Today’s Runner their follow up Laid takes a more acoustic approach, which really highlights Booth’s bewitching vocals. “Sometimes when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul…”
In 1990 my friends Dan and Trace dragged me to the Chicago Theater to see a Dead Can Dance show. It was their first North America Tour, and I had never heard of the band so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Given the name, I was thinking it was probably some sort of goth act like the Cure or Joy Division. It turned out to be nothing I expected, or had ever experienced before.
Today’s Runner Spirtchaser is a gorgeous blend of rhythmic percussion and ethereal vocals. Lisa Gerrard’s voice is that of a nightingale, rich and melodic, both powerful and vulnerable at the same time. It is not of this world. Brendan Perry is brilliant. His guitar and voice never overstated, rather delicately tied with Gerrard creating a beautiful harmonic lattice that flowers with mystique throughout. I love to run to this record. It powers my legs and kindles my body and soul.
Happy birthday to me, and to you.