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Ian Hunter - Ian Hunter's Overnight Angels

Review: 139
Date: 2 Aug 03


Rating: 5 Stars

Ian Hunter - Guitars, Piano, and Vocals
Earl Slick - Guitars
Peter Oxendale - Keyboards
Rob Rawlinson - Bass
Dennis Elliot - Drums

Tracks Listing:
Golden Opportunity
Shallow Crystals
Overnight Angels
Justice of the Peace
(Miss) Silver dollar
Wild 'n' Free
The Ballad of Little Star
To Love a woman
England Rocks


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 light weight '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 was 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 play.''

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 of 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 Rockers.

'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.

"One of Pattaya's leading Rock 'n' Roll Bars once designed one of their famous T-Shirts using the brilliant artwork by David Oxtoby used for this album".


Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew


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