“Ships” – Ian Hunter

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One of the best songs about fathers and sons ever written, especially because it’s about the odd and sad gulfs that are present in a lot of these relationships. I’m not sure why this is. If I could adequately explain this kind of thing, I’d probably be a billionaire self-help guru. In my opinion, this is way better (and much less cheesy) than “The Living Years.”

You may recognize this song, because Barry Manilow covered in 1979 and had a huge hit with it. However, I much prefer Ian Hunter’s original version. From Hunter’s 1979 album “You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic.”

“Laugh at Me” – Mott the Hoople

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“Laugh at Me” was originally a charming, yet clumsy protest song written and performed by Sonny Bono in the late 1960s. Mott the Hoople covered it in 1967 on their first album and what was once clumsy became majestic. Sounding like an outtake from Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde,” Ian Hunter and the gang slowed down the tempo, gave the song a serious treatment, and let that wonderful organ and guitar sound do the rest. A great example of how a cover can completely transcend an original.

“I Wish I Was Your Mother” – Mott the Hoople

I’ll quote Greil Marcus on this one: “(Lead singer Ian) Hunter must have smiled when he saw the punks of the late seventies reach the audience he was sure had to be out there somewhere – smiled, and wondered if anyone remembered ‘I Wish I Was Your Mother,’ a shatteringly beautiful horror story that no punk has ever touched on record, though Sid Vicious may well have lived most of it out.”

“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” – Ian Hunter

Yes, I’m glad Great White’s version was a big hit because Ian Hunter finally got the payday he so richly deserved. But the original from 1975 completely kicks Great White’s ass. Wait until 1:56 into this clip when the wall of guitars kicks in. It’s one of the most transcendent moments in rock history. The absolute GREATEST hard rock song in rock history, bar none. You gotta love a song where the piano is rocking as hard as the guitars.