Slip this wonderfully newly
remastered version of Ian Hunter’s Classic
album from 1979 into your player and out
bursts Dam-Dah-Ram-Dam, then drums followed
by guitar with keyboards, and there you
are in the middle of the Schizophrenic
world of Ian Hunter. The nine songs featured
on this collection used to comprise five
on side A and four on side B in the days
of good old vinyl. The Schizophrenic title
wasn’t meant to be wholly serious (it
was actually taken from graffiti on a
New York toilet wall), however, listening
to the record it soon became clear that
musically it was split. Side one featured
five relatively commercial songs, and
side two four longer more heavy introverted
pieces that dwelt on past influences on
Ian’s life and showed the darker side
of his character.
After the fire and spat of opener “Just
Another Night” comes swaggering to a halt,
it immediately merges into the bump and
groove of “Wild East”, a mildly energetic
and melodic piece with a sax-based riff
concerning the crazed east side of New
York City. It had an undoubted Springsteen
and Dylan flavour, which is not highly
surprising as joining Hunter in the studio
were 3 of Springsteen’s E-street band
in Ray Bitten (Piano), Gary Tallent (Bass)
and Max Weinberg (Drums) alongside guitar
ace Mick Ronson who had just come off
Dylan’s Rolling Thunder tour.
Next up is Ian Hunter’s anthem to Cleveland,
“Cleveland Rocks” (now used as the theme
tune for the Drew Carey show). It opens
with a spoken section from the infamous
Alan Freed before Ronson fires the whole
thing off with some guitar pyrotenics,
now a staple of all Ian Hunter’s concerts.
Hunter included a touching hymn-like ballad,
“Ships”, concerning his relationship with
his father. “Ships” was subsequently covered
by Barry Mannilow and charted as a hit
single, probably earning more money in
royalties for Ian Hunter then he’d ever
made before. Funny old world this Rock
‘n’ Roll, ain’t it.
Closing side one was Mick Ronson’s favorite
track “When The Daylight Comes”, a light
and simple song that Ian encouraged Mick
to sing duel lead vocals on.
Side two opens with “Life After Death”,
which allowed Ian to explore metaphysical
issues with an all out belting rocker.
“Standing In My Light” shifts moods and
dynamics in gospel fashion. It builds
up slowly and compellingly in terms of
musical anger as Ian gives a stately account
of a new beginning in his life.
“Bastard” is a powerful piece of macho-funk
with a throbbing beat and percussion that
recalls the Rolling Stones Black &
Blue era. Built on a relentless grinding
slow burn the track concerns some poor
unfortunate who crossed Ian and incurred
“The Outsider” closes the record in dramatic
fashion, employing arresting drum and
vocal echoes, topped with more scorching
Ronson lead guitar.
With three months of pre-production the
record produced by Mick & Ian, engineered
by the notorious Bob Clearmountain, took
only one week to record, a further three
weeks to mix, and then went straight into
the Billboard top forty and became Ian
Hunter’s most successful solo project
to this day.
Overall the album was a hard hitting surging
rock record with superb studio sound.
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew