Ian Hunter Releases All-Star ‘Defiance Part 2’ Album

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Ian Hunter has released the follow-up to last year’s acclaimed album, Defiance Part 1. The new title, Defiance Part 2: Fiction, arrived April 19, 2024, via the Sun Records label. And like its predecessor, the new 10-song collection boasts an all-star lineup led by performances from Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins in what proved to be among their final recordings. Some of the names also participating are Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, and Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), Brian May (Queen), Joe Elliott and Phil Collen (Def Leppard), and Johnny Depp, among many others. The title is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here. Listen to many of the tracks below.

The legendary singer-songwriter, author, and rock ‘n’ roll star, who turns 85 on June 3, is also joined by Lucinda Williams, Dean DeLeo, Robert De Leo, and Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots), Billy Bob Thornton and J.D. Andrew (The Boxmasters), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Waddy Wachtel, David Mansfield, Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith), Steve Holley (Wings), and Morgan Fisher (Mott the Hoople). See the complete track listing and participants below.

Defiance Part 2: Fiction – which features an original cover painting by Depp – includes the first single, “Precious,” featuring Hawkins on drums, Elliott on background vocals and instantly identifiable guitar from May (who began his own road to superstardom when Queen supported Mott the Hoople on their blockbuster 1974 tour of the U.K. and North America).

“We got on really well with Queen,” Hunter says. “When you’re in a band you can get really bored with each other but they were just normal blokes, it was like being on the road with nine guys instead of just five. Freddie was hilarious and I’ve kept up with Brian to this day.”

Watch the lyric video for the first single, “Precious,” featuring Elliott, May and Hawkins

From the Feb. 15 announcement: Hunter has stood in the spotlight for nearly seven decades, from fronting Mott the Hoople and his renowned partnership with Mick Ronson to his internationally lauded 21st century renaissance with the Rant Band. The Defiance project came together in 2020 as Hunter worked on new songs in his Connecticut basement alongside his longtime collaborator, guitarist/producer/multi-instrumentalist Andy York. With quarantine rules in effect, longtime manager Mike Kobayashi and famed rock ‘n’ roll photographer Ross Halfin suggested Hunter reach out to some of his friends and fellow artists to fill in the tracks. A spectacular selection of stars immediately agreed, building out Hunter’s demos with their trademark talents.

Defiance Part 2: Fiction again boasts a historic roster of guest artists while evincing a harder lyrical edge and denser musical approach. Having long used his voice to explore and examine contemporary issues, Hunter is once more pointing his passionate pen at a society seemingly more out of control with each passing day.

Listen to “The 3rd Rail,” which features Jeff Beck among its guest stars

Hunter’s perspective and gift for protest music are as clear-eyed and independent as ever. “I’m neither left nor particularly right,” he says. “I’m just straight down the middle. And so I tried to write from that point of view. An eagle has two wings and if one falls off it perishes. That’s what I’m trying to get at. A bit of common sense, you know, Thomas Paine stuff.”

Countless highlights abound through Part 2, from a pair of irresistibly crunchy rockers (“People” and “Kettle of Fish”) featuring three founding members of Cheap Trick, Zander, Nielsen and Petersson.

On the raw, emotional “What Would I Do Without You,” Hunter shares lead vocals with Lucinda Williams – the first duet in his extensive canon.

“Lucinda and her husband came to one of my shows in Nashville,” Hunter says. “I love her voice, there’s something very childlike, and you just know it’s her straight away. You don’t forget that voice.”

Much to his surprise, Hunter is currently hard at work writing songs for a third installment in the Defiance project.  “I never initiated this,” he says. “It just kind of just happened and it turned out great. So I’m going to write some more songs and we’ll see what happens again.”

“Everybody’s Crazy But Me” features Hawkins, Tench and Wachtel.

Defiance Part 2 Track Listing and Personnel

1. People
Dane Clark: Drums
Tom Petersson: Bass
Robin Zander: Keyboard, Background Vocals
Robin-Sailor, RTZ: Background Vocals
Rick Nielsen: Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitars
Mark Bosch: Electric Guitar
Joe Elliott: Background Vocals
Ian Hunter: Piano

2. Fiction
Dane Clark: Drums, China Cymbal
Steve Holley: Tambourine, Toms, Cymbal Swell
David Mansfield: Strings and String Arrangement
Morgan Fisher: Piano Solo and Organ
Andy York: Bass, 12-String, Baritone and Electric Guitar
Ian Hunter: Piano

3. The 3rd Rail
Dane Clark: Drums
Tony Shanahan: Bass
Jeff Beck – Lead Guitar
Johnny Depp: Acoustic and Electric Rhythm Guitar
Ian Hunter: Piano
(Dedicated to Jeff)

4. This Ain’t Rock And Roll
Dane Clark: Drums
Tony Shanahan: Bass
Phil Collen: Background Vocals
Andy York: Slide and Electric Guitar
Ian Hunter: Piano

5. Precious
Taylor Hawkins: Drums
Brian May: Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Bass
Joe Elliott: Background Vocals
James Mastro: Sax Abuse
Ian Hunter: Piano

6. Weed
Eric Kretz: Drums
Robert De Leo: Bass
Dean DeLeo: Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Slide Guitar
Andy Burton: Organ
Dennis DiBrizzi: Background Vocals
Ian Hunter: Piano

7. Kettle Of Fish
Taylor Hawkins: Drums
Dane Clark: Drums and Snare Section
Tom Petersson: Bass
Robin Zander: Background Vocal
Rick Nielsen: Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitars
Steve Holley: Tambourine
Tommy Mandel: Organ
Andy York: Baritone Guitar, Background Vocal
Ian Hunter: Electric Guitar

8. What Would I Do Without You
Dane Clark: Drums
Lucinda Williams: Lead and Background Vocals
Benmont Tench: Organ
Tony Shanahan: Bass
Andy Burton: Electric Piano
Andy York: Baritone Guitar
Ian Hunter: Piano

9. Everybody’s Crazy But Me
Taylor Hawkins: Drums
Waddy Wachtel: Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitars
Benmont Tench: Organ
Steve Holley: Maracas, Tambourine
Paul Page: Bass
James Mastro: Electric Guitar
Dennis DiBrizzi, Andy York: Background Vocals
Ian Hunter: Piano

10. Hope
Taylor Hawkins: Drums, Bass
Lucinda Williams: Harmony Vocal
Billy Bob Thornton: Background Vocals
Benmont Tench: Synth
Steve Holley: Maracas, Tambourine
J.D. Andrew: Electric Guitar
Andy York: Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Ian Hunter: Piano

Related: Our Album Rewind of Hunter’s You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic

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