See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Shrunken Heads

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Ian Hunter, the ex-Mott the Hoople mainman, brings us the most American, most "grown-up" rock 'n' roll album of the year. And what a sweet, hook-filled gem it is.

His last, 2001's Rant, had a decidedly British political tint to it — Shrunken Heads is 100 percent made-in-the-USA.

With guitarist Andy York (Hunter's current Mick Ronson-like sidekick), the tunes run the traditional Hunter path from ominous rockers ("Stretch") to plaintive ballads ("Guiding Light") to power-popping longing for simpler times ("When the World Was Round"). The country rag-time flavor of "I Am What I Hated When I was Young" finds Hunter riffing (rather characteristically) wittily about growing up, only to learn that he's come full circle: "I'm the original mixed-up kid, I ain't proud of what I did."

The album's centerpiece, "Soul of America," is the national anthem for these times. While he's supportive of the safety of trenched U.S. kids in Iraq, those "wild-eyed boys; red white and blue," Hunter's equally critical of those "good-old boys in their three-piece suits, feathering their nests while rallying the troops."

Though he's British-born, Hunter's an honorary Yank; he understands the American soul, and is a keen Dylanesque observer of it: "You can find soul all over this land, except in the places it oughta be."

In the end, Hunter's finest talent is his ability to express the sentiments of many, both as Americans and human beings, and his songs offer faith in vulnerable and disturbing times. Besides, they sound perfectly fantastic with the top down on a spring-summer evening. Let's rock the soul of America!


Friday, June 8, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward, Ferndale; 248-544-3030.

Ricky Phillips writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit