by Mott the Dog
re-mastered By Ella Crew
What an album! The perfect party album, every track
takes off like a locomotive with the brakes off and the wheels rolling
freely as it takes you on an express ride around the frantic world of Rock
‘n’ Roll and the minds of the people that create this medium.
This album started out as a fun venture in Abbey Road
Studios when Norwegian keyboard player and long time friend of Ian
Hunter’s (ex Mott the Hoople) Casino Steel was going in to record a few
numbers with some of his friends going under the name of Gringo Starr’s
All Stars (cheeky little name if ever I have heard one), knowing that Ian
Hunter was at a loose end after just tragically losing his off sider, main
collaborator, and all round good guy Mick Ronson to the dreaded cancer the
previous year (1993), after completing the Mick Ronson memorial Concerts
at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. (The building that used to be the
Hammersmith Odeon may be called many different things due to commercial
reasons over the last few years, but it will always be the Hammersmith
Odeon to me, and one of the finest venues ever to go and see your favorite
band.) All the artists on this album in some way or another took part in
Of course in true Rock ‘n’ Roll style when all the
musicians were called together at Abbey Road, a very embarrassed Casino
Steel had to admit he did not actually have any songs to record, but with
a band like this put together and fourteen days booked in the studio,
something had to be done. The band in the studio was Casino Steel, well
respected solo artist from his Norwegian homeland; Ian Hunter (ex Mott the
Hoople); Honest Plain John of the Boys and the Crybabies; Darrell Bath of
U.K Subs; Dog’s D’Amour, and The Godfathers; Vom of Doctor and The
Medics, surely one of the most underrated drummers of his era.
The infamous Blue Weaver took turns on keyboards with
Casino Steel, and holding down the bass guitar responsibilities was a
certain Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols and Rich Kids fame.
In fourteen days eighteen songs were completed, twelve
of which appeared on this fine collection, three of which are Hunter
songs, four of which are Hunter collaborations, and the other five are
shared by the rest of the band. Subsequently the record company asked for
a name change and Gringo Starr’s All-Star’s was dropped for the more
original and more amusing “Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry”.
What you get is a hybrid of Rock ‘n’ Roll songs
that sound as if they were written in the sixties and recorded in the
nineties by a band that had been together for three decades not three
First song is ‘Dancing on the Moon’ and its title
reflects how the band felt being in this position, total freedom. So
let’s just go out and enjoy ourselves, written in the studio (which is
often the best way to keeping it spontaneous), done in the studio in one
take and the band didn’t know what they were doing at all. Vom just sort
of keeps time, because he didn’t know where to roll as Hunter kept on
changing the song as it was going along. It isn’t a song as such, just
something that happened in the studio whilst fortunately the tapes were
rolling. What you are left with is a great slab of party time Rock ‘n’
Roll that is as fresh as a daisy.
After this we get another rocker in the amusing
‘Another Fine Mess’, with lyrics from Hunter about the old touring
days of the Hunter/Ronson band.
“Well you say I’m kicking up too much of a fuss.
But twenty-four hours on the bus.
The band’s all moaning, the driver’s slow.
There’s not enough people, too many shows.
Down in the dumps, with the birthday blues.
Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
Then, showing that life is not all laughs and
frivolity, we get the somber ‘Scars’, showing that in all personnel
relationships we have to get through the troughs as well as the peaks.
Hunter’s singing of his own lyrics has never been more poignant.
Of course as soon as this little ode finishes, boys
will always immediately revert to being boys and we get the first
non-Hunter song in the fabulous romp through Darrell Bath’s ‘Never
Trust a Blonde’ with delightful sexy lyrics (not sexist, could be a
bloke dying his barnet), a booming drum beat, raucous backing vocals,
tinkling piano, screaming guitar solos, and a knowing wink to life on the
To show this really was meant as a band effort, we then
get a jaunt through Honest Plain John’s ‘Psycho Girl’ with it’s
jangly guitar refrain and hypnotic chorus.
The centrepiece of the album is a rolling take on what
could be the follow up to Mott the Hoople’s final single ‘Saturday
Gigs’, which was a look back at the six years of the life of a band,
their achievements and failures. ‘My Revolution’ looks back at the
proceeding twenty years, how things have not really changed that much
apart from the slow aging process we all go through, and how we all think
we have become smarter. But that I leave for you to decide.
‘My Revolution’ does have the knowing lyrics “No
one told our wrinkles what to wear”. The song is brought to a rousing
conclusion very much in “All you need is Love” Beatles style with Ian
Hunter adlibbing lyrics over the top of the fading chorus. ‘Good
Girls’, another Honest Plain John song, could be “The Kinks” from
their sixties heyday.
‘Red Letter Day’ is a great Hunter song that he had
held onto for years without ever getting a decent occasion to get it down
on tape. Well, this seemed the perfect time and was a beautiful ballad
about returning home to your loved ones after time spent apart whilst
going through rough times, and the determination to try and make up for
lost time. It also includes a stunning emotional guitar solo from Darrell
The band then romp through three road songs that most
people would die for to have in their repertoire, each single one would
get people leaping about on the dance floor at a college hop.
Hidden away as last song on this collection is one of
Ian Hunter’s most honest soul bearing laments, ‘The Other Man’, a
song about taking your partner back after an affair with your best friend
and how someone may take the partner back and never forget, but possibly
forgive. But not the Other Man, who should have known better than to mess
with your lady. ‘The Other Man’ has to be one of the best songs that
Ian Hunter ever recorded. It is a shame that it did not get much exposure
on its release, as it sure would of tugged on a few heartstrings and
perhaps twanged a few guilt strings in other directions.
“Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry” suffered from very
little fanfare when it came out (although great critical acclaim including
one British journalist, who wrote “In a perfect world we would hear more
from pros like Hunter and less from too many younger lesser talents with
too little to say”), and was very badly distributed by record company
NorskPlatproduksjon. They probably never had such a high quality product
on their roster before, and only let the rights go begrudgingly to
different countries over the next two years. It has only been available on
general release for the last couple of years. But if you are a lover of
good, old fashion, honest, basic Rock ‘n’ Roll, “Ian Hunter’s
Dirty Laundry” is something you should pick up and take home.
Dancing on the Moon, Another Fine Mess, Scars, Never Trust A Blonde,
Psycho Girl, My Revolution, Good Girls, Red Letter Day, Invisible Strings,
Everybody’s A fool, Junkee Love, The Other Man