Ian Hunter and the Rant Band, with Illinois

Behind those trademark shades, Ian Hunter exudes the winning sincerity of a rock-and-roll lifer. Active since 1958, most notably as front man for influential Brit glam legends Mott the Hoople from 1969 to 1974, the curly-haired Shropshire native has often employed his piano, guitar, harmonica and raspy voice on superb compositions about the music itself. His "All the Way From Memphis" is a personalized meta-rock classic; "Ballad of Mott (26th March 1972, Zurich)" is a rueful autobiographical gem, written after a lousy band-splintering Swiss gig. (Mott fan David Bowie famously wrote "All the Young Dudes" for them to prevent the split, producing their biggest hit; Hunter subsequently worked with brilliant former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson until Ronson's death in 1993.) "Still Love Rock and Roll" kicked off Hunter's 2001


, another of his strong solo albums since 1975. This year's fine

Shrunken Heads

adds to the 68-year-old's impressive catalogue.

- David R. Stampone

Concert Previews

Q102 FM Jingle Ball/ Power 99 FM Holla Day Jam

If there's a holiday season to be had, there must be time for Clear Channel Radio Philadelphia to gather a sonic lot of music-makers naughty (their records tanked) and nice (they struck gold). First, there's WIOQ-FM's Q102 Jingle Ball - a twee concert more geared to kiddies than the gig that'll follow it. Here,

American Idols

Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis will join with best-selling

High School Musical

mite Ashley Tisdale (with her new nose job and her hit single "Be Good to Me"), Good Charlotte, pop reggae kid Sean Kingston ("Beautiful Girls"), and Avril Lavigne. Wise old studio maven/occasional rapper Timbaland seems out of place, despite having smashes and producing some for Justin Timberlake. But OneRepublic is on his record, so that sufficiently bridges the age gap.

The Power 99 Holla Day Jam is more of a hip-hop hoot - still young, but not Disney-Tisdale young - with the likes of Sean Kingston (again!) and the Soulja Boy/Shop Boyz party rap axis leading the charge for gleeful crooner/MC Chris Brown and Bow Wow, who's now too old to be Lil Bow Wow. Wow'll leave the "lil" to Lil' Mama, the going-on-17 Brooklyn native whose sassy vocals and rugged raps make her debut, due in 2008, the best reason to end 2007 early.

- A.D. Amorosi

Boys Noize

Between the resurrection of the venerable Daft Punk with a tour and an excellent live album and the newfound success of Justice with its


record and the giddy single "D.A.N.C.E.," 2007 has been a good year for banging electronic anthems from Europe. A latecomer to this year's party is Boys Noize, the nom de DJ of Berlin's Alex Ridha, who brings his big beat instrumentals to Pure tonight for a Making Time event. The new

Oi Oi Oi

proves that Ridha, like Daft Punk and Justice, loves a grand, ecstatic beat - almost every track is a climax - although he shows less concern with overt, melodic pop hooks. Ridha's in demand for remixes, too, having deconstructed songs for Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson and Feist (he turns the ethereal "My Moon, My Man" into something dark and robotic).

- Steve Klinge