In Mott the Hoople, shades-clad British ex-newspaperman Ian Hunter was as literate and self-aware as any '70s hard rocker. And though acts from the Clash to Def Leppard to the Pet Shop Boys to Billy Bob Thornton have claimed Mott as a primary inspiration, no band since has managed to carry Jerry Lee Lewis rockabilly and Blonde on Blonde folk boogie into the realm of glam metal. Songs such as "Ballad of Mott" and "Saturday Gigs," like Hunter's definitive 1972 book Diary of a Rock'N'Roll Star, were unflinchingly clear-eyed chronicles of musicians' lives; by the time he left Mott in 1974, Hunter seemed to think rock 'n' roll itself was dying. Yet he's never stopped plugging away. Of his 13 solo albums, 1975's self-titled debut and 1979's You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic remain the most indispensable, and not just because they spawned his best-known songs: "Once Bitten Twice Shy" (later a hit for Great White), "Ships" (later a hit for Barry Manilow) and "Cleveland Rocks" (later a TV theme for Drew Carey). But nearly all his music is worth hearing. Now, seven decades into his life, Hunter is still making respectable records for alt-country label New West.