With Ian Hunter coming off two solidly excellent solo albums, hopes for his third were sky high, all the more so since he had returned, nominally at least, to a band format with the Earl Slick fired Overnight Angels. The truth of the matter, however, was incomparably sadder, as the ensuing disc emerged bloated, tired and almost wholly lacking in the energies that had hitherto fired Hunter's work. Overnight angels? More like overweight. There were some moments of greatness -- "Justice of the Peace" is a bouncy pop confection detailing a shotgun wedding, while "The Ballad of Little Star" leads off a handful of cuts that delve deep into the Americana lore and legend with which Hunter, newly transplanted to the United States, was surrounding himself. Unfortunately, that might well be the album's greatest problem. As a songwriter with both Mott the Hoople and alone, Hunter's greatest strength was his ability to detail emotions -- usually his, but other peoples' too. Overnight Angels, however, has no unifying theme beyond an attempt to "be" American -- a state of being that a thirty-something guy from Shropshire, England, was never going to achieve. With the band similarly uncertain about precisely what they are trying to do, the entire album founders and it is ironic indeed that the only song from the entire Overnight Angels period that had any kind of lifespan ahead of it was a catchy little rocker that Hunter buried away on a B-side, "England Rocks." Retitled "Cleveland Rocks" and unleashed on his next tour, the song has since become established among Hunter's all-time greats. ~ Dave Thompson
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