I was listening to Ian Hunter’s Ripoff today (9-3-12), the 10th track from his 10th solo disc from 2001. Lo and behold the Newbury Comics ad noted a new CD from Hunter in release, When I’m President, so I sought out the YouTube on the new single. I’m happy to report that it’s pure magic and a return to what the faithful want to hear from one of our favorite voices.
One of the most important of those voices in rock, Ian Hunter, returns at election time U.S.A. with a political statement on America that is poignant, hard-hitting and catchy as all get out. “When I’m President” is an authoritative punch at the shenanigans going on during this crazed cycle when a great film director like Clint Eastwood makes a damn fool of himself on national television talking to an empty chair. Absolute Power indeeed. Where Alice Cooper took his old song “Reflected” from the Pretties For You lp (May, 1969, actually their very first single on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records) and turned it into “Elected” – a Top 30 song in October of 1972 – (when 3 years seemed like an eternity in the music biz) it was in a tongue-in-cheek “Pat Paulsen for President” sort of way that those of us from the 60’s and 70’s were accustomed to. Ian Hunter actually goes back to the style of 2001’s Rant for this very political rant on America’s current state of mind. With booming guitars from out of the old west (or a Marlboro commercial) Ian invokes Leon Russell’s brilliant 1971 45 RPM on Shelter Records, “Stranger In A Strange Land” as well as his own All American Alien Boy disc from 1976. And where Mark Farner was “inside looking out”, Ian is outside looking in, a rusty lamp the genie can’t come out of…great alliteration and depiction of the frustration of knowing most logical people can make better decisions than those we are forced to choose from, and why those we are forced to choose enter “the pit and the pendulum”…terrific stuff.
Ian spits it out with the same vengeance and tongue-lashing he gave England. It’s too bad they took hit radio away from us because this solid outing would really get things shaking. Maybe Obama needs to put a quick film together, an antidote to the Republican rhetoric, and use this as a theme song. As much as it mocks him as well (for caving in), it also gives President O an out. This is a magnificent anthem for Adult Alternative Album (they like to call it Adult Album Alternative, but my way is more specific) rock stations – if any of them are left without corporate chains – “thieves on the Holy road, digging up the motherlode” – pirates…highway robbery…Ian Hunter is saying what all fair-minded are thinking… we have an obligation to make this a YouTube hit. Wake the sleeping masses up. TMRZoo editors don’t like us getting too political, but the song is political, and this song says it all. Five stars.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.