4 out of 5 Stars!
Although often maligned for reasons I don’t quite comprehend, Ian Hunter’s third solo release is probably one of my favorites from the ex-Mott The Hoople frontman. Indeed, I find this album one of his most “Hooplesque” when it comes to the songwriting and the song arrangements. Additionally, the sound of the instruments are pure Mott, with the tinkling pianos and the stinging guitars.
The tracks here are a fine mixture of rather bombastic Glam Rock (the opening “Golden Opportunities”—in many ways similar in sound and style to Mott The Hoople’s “Marionette”—along with the more experimental title track, the rollicking “Wild ‘n’ Free” and the silly, tongue-in-cheek “Justice of the Peace”) and piano-driven ballads, of which Ian often excels (“Shallow Crystals,” “Miss Silver Dime,” “The Ballad of Little Star,” and “Broadway,” which rivals my favorite Mott The Hoople ballad, “Rose”). Only the album’s closing track, “To Love a Woman,” stands out among the rest due to its more contemporary style, and therefore, seems quite out of place with the rest of the album’s overall “Mottness.”
Generally speaking, much of this collection brings to mind memories of The Hoople album. And the musicians hired for this release, especially guitarist Earl Slick, also have such a “Mott-feel” when it comes to their performances that it’s a wonder why Slick wasn’t hired in Mott The Hoople instead of Mick Ronson to replace the departing Ariel Bender after The Hoople album. Anyway, it’s a shame Hunter didn’t keep this group of musicians together for at least another album or two.
The only true negative aspect of this album for me is the “over production” from Roy Thomas Baker, but I can easily overlook that flaw since the songs are all quite enjoyable and, through Ian Hunter, the undying spirit of Mott The Hoople once again reared its glorious head.