37. Ian Hunter – England Rocks (1977)

Ian Hunter left Mott the Hoople in 1974 and made some decent solo records (many of them in conjunction with Mick Ronson, who played lead guitar with David Bowie in the Spiders from Mars). And in 1977, Hunter put out an amazing single called “England Rocks” — which may sound somewhat familiar to you.

Two years later, Hunter would re-record the song as “Cleveland Rocks” and release it on his terribly named album You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. Naturally, “Cleveland Rocks” has remained a municipal anthem in Cleveland to this day.  (Although to be fair, how much competition has it really had?) The song was made more famous still when it was covered by The Presidents of the United States of America back in the 1990s and used as the theme song for The Drew Carey Show — a TV theme, I think, that is rivaled only by the closing theme of WKRP in Cincinnati for bringing the rock.

Hunter now maintains that he had originally written the song about Cleveland and wanted to record it as “Cleveland Rocks” all along, but his record company had pressured him to aim for a bigger market than Cleveland, so he changed it to “England Rocks” for its initial recording. But I’m a little dubious — it sounds to me like the bridge was really designed for a song about England, not Cleveland: “I got some badges from World War II / I wear ’em just like my Granddad do / He was a villain and I am too / Oh England rocks.”

No offense to Cleveland or anything. But maybe by the time 1979 rolled around and anti-establishment punk was in full force, “England Rocks” wasn’t a marketable anthem anymore, but “Cleveland Rocks” was. Anyways, if you were looking for a song to get you excited about coming to England, this seems to me to be as good as any you’ll find.

Also, so far as I can tell, Ian Hunter was born wearing sunglasses and has never once removed them.

Ian Hunter


One thought on “37. Ian Hunter – England Rocks (1977)

  1. He says:

    K-D- just shared this blog. 1. Ian Hunter is awesome and it’s a crime he’s not played on the radio (don’t get me started). 2. That’s how rock and roll should sound. 3. Saw him on the Craig Ferguson show, on YouTube – he had a very convincing story about why he wrote the song about Cleveland – I won’t paraphrase because I’ll get it wrong. 4. Cleveland Rocks just works so much better. England is supposed to rock with its supposed god Eric Clapton (DGMS) – Cleveland is supposed to suck with its burning river, “mistake by the lake” identity, etc. And this weird guy with permanent sunglasses wrote a kick-ass song about it. Don’t be burstin’ my bubble, man.

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