By Jim Schutze
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Approaching his 68th birthday, Ian Hunter is still the consummate rock star. With his flowing, blond locks and those ever-present sunglasses, Hunter continues to be relevant nearly four decades since he sang "All the Young Dudes." On his first studio release in six years, Hunter candidly explores the perils of society, whether that be rampant commercialism ("Brainwashed") or his own lack of self-restraint ("Words (Big Mouth)").
Shrunken Heads finds the former Mott the Hoople frontman in solid form. Featuring contributions from Jeff Tweedy, James Mastro (the Bongos), Steve Holley (Paul McCartney) and Graham Maby (Joe Jackson), songs such as "I Am What I Hated When I Was Young" and "When the World Was Round" find Hunter still musing on the themes of age, stardom and significance. His voice, that marvelous amalgamation of Dylan and Bowie, can still deliver lines such as "Well I don't follow any trend/I don't sulk for hours on end" with the same weary aplomb that made Mott such a champion for the working class.
Shrunken Heads delivers a plethora of Rolling Stone riffs (a la Exile on Main St.) and touching piano-based ballads. "Soul of America," Hunter's examination of the post 9/11 world, is the only misstep as he tries to play both sides, referring to Bush ("And that sure ain't Geronimo running the game") and the troops ("Come hell or high water, we're rooting for you"). Otherwise, Hunter's ageless street cred remains gloriously intact.
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