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Ian Hunter | Short Back N’ Sides Promo Poster

The album is no You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic, but the poster is cool.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I became an Ian Hunter fan, but I suspect it was the first time I heard Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes in the early ’70s. Like tons of folks, that was the first Mott album I bought, but not the last. And while I love Hoople classics like Roll Away The Stone, Golden Age of Rock ’n’ Roll, Honaloochie Boogie and All The Way From Memphis as much as any other saggy-assed old coot, if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to admit I’m really a bigger fan of Hunter’s solo albums — especially his 1979 commercial breakthrough You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic. From Just Another Night and Cleveland Rocks to When The Daylight Comes, Life After Death and Bastard, there isn’t really a bum track on it. A studio band that included longtime guitar foil Mick Ronson, the Velvet Underground’s John Cale and The E Street Band’s Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg and Gary Tallent didn’t hurt either. The punkier 1981 studio followup Short Back N’ Sides also boasted an all-star lineup, but this time it included Mick Jones and Topper Headon of The Clash, along with violinist Tymon Dogg, members of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia and more (backup vocalist Ellen Foley, who was Jones’ girlfriend at the time, sang on both Schizophrenic and Short Back, so I presume she deserves some credit for bringing Jones and Hunter together). Granted, the later album doesn’t match Schizophrenic for songwriting consistency, rock swagger and sheer greatness, but songs like Central Park n’ West, Lisa Likes Rock n’ Roll, Gun Control and even Old Records Never Die are all keepers. I didn’t have an opportunity to see Hunter back in his glory days, but I did catch him at SXSW about a decade ago and it was still a thrill to watch him in action. I don’t expect I’ll get another chance, given that he turned 80 (believe it or not) last year and came down with sudden and severe tinnitus that forced him off the road. Oh well. But I do have this promo poster from Short Back N’ Sides, so that’s something. If you’re interested in owning it, drop me a line.