Mott the Hoople


Band members                         Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-73)

- Verden Allen -- keyboards

- Dale Griffin -- drums, percussion

- Ian Hunter -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards

- Mick Ralphs -- lead guitar, vocals

- Overend Pete Watts -- bass, backing vocals

 

  line up 2 (1973)

- Aerial Bender (aka Luther Grosvenor) -- lead guitar (replaced Mick Ralphs)

NEW - Mick Bolton -- keyboards  (replaced Verden Allen)

NEW- Morgan Fisher -- keyboards (replaced Verden Allen)

- Dale Griffin -- drums, percussion

- Ian Hunter -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards

- Overend Pete Watts -- bass, backing vocals

 

  line up 3 (1973-76)

- Morgan Fisher -- keyboards

- Dale Griffin -- drums, percussion

- Ian Hunter -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards

- Mick Ronson -- lead guitar (replaced Aerial Bender)

- Overend Pete Watts -- bass, backing vocals

 

 

 

 

- Bad Company (Mick Ralphs)

- The British Lions

- Doc Thomas Group

- Luther Grosvenor (solo efforts)

- Ian Hunter (solo efforts)

- Love Affair (Morgan Fisher)

- Mick Ronson (solo efforts)

- Spooky Tooth (Aerial Bender)

- Widowmaker

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Wildlife

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD-8304
Year:
 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6244

Price: $15.00

 

After two commercially under-performing albums, producer Guy Stevens reportedly pressured Mott the Hoople to make some personnel changes, including suggesting the band fire keyboardist Verden Allen.  The band responded to the suggestion by ending their relationship with Stevens.   The band also decided to take a stab at self-production with the release of 1971's "Wildlife".  With singer Ian Hunter and lead guitarist Mick Ralphs dividing writing chores, the album also found the band making a tentative move towards a lighter, more varied and commercial sound.  Mind you, evidenced by songs like 'Whiskey Woman' and the live 'Keep a' Knockin'' there were still plenty of rockers on the collection, but you also had some sensitive singer/songwriter numbers ('Original Mixed-Up Kid'), a country-rocker ('It Must Be Love') and even one amazing Neil Young knock-off ('Wrong Side of the River').  The album was also an anomaly in the band's catalog in that Hunter and Ralphs shared vocal responsibilities.  While I've always liked Hunter's rugged, occasionally Dylan-esque voice, hearing Ralphs take the mike made for a pleasant change.  To be honest, Ralphs didn't have a particularly impressive voice, but at least within the studio confines his performances were more than adequate.

 

- For my money Ralph's 'Whiskey Woman' stands as one of the band's best songs.  A crisp and powerful rocker with some funny 'American groupie' lyrics, Ralphs lead vocals were great (making for a nice change from Hunters ragged voice).  Should have provided the band with a massive radio hit ...   rating: **** stars

- Okay if was apparently inspired by a New York prostitute, but 'Angel of Eighth Avenue' remained one of Hunter's prettiest compositions.  With a beautiful and almost pastoral melody, even Hunter's vocals were understated.  Loved the way Hunter's lyrics captured the mundane aspects of city life.  rating: **** stars

- Written and sung by Ralphs, 'Wrong Side of the River' found the band turning in their best Neil Young impersonation ....  Seriously, Ralphs fragile falsetto bore an uncanny resemblance to Young this time around and the song's melancholy melody and feel was a perfect Young knock-off.   Great song.   rating: **** stars

- For a band known for their rock repertoire, Hunter's 'Waterlow' came as a major surprise - who would have expected to hear an orchestrated folk number ?   Very pretty and calming and truly bizarre.   rating: *** stars

- One of two cover tunes, side one ended with Melanie's 'Lay Down'.  I can't say I was ever enthralled with the Melanie original, so their probably wasn't much that Mott could have done to convert me ...  Needless to say, Hunter's screaming vocal coupled with a backing chorus that sounded like it had been lifted from the original, failed to impress.   rating: ** stars

- Mott does Poco ...   Yeah, I never expected to hear these guys doing a country-rocker, but witness 'It Must Be Love' they did.  Not bad, though it simply wasn't a genre that did a great deal for me.   rating: *** stars

- Showcased keyboardist Verden, 'Home I Where I Want To Be' was a catchy, mid-tempo rocker that sported one of the album's best chorus.  Shame the song faded out so early.   rating: **** stars

- A slightly ramshackle live performance that suffered from hideous sound quality, the liner notes listed the track as Little Richard's 'Keep a' Knocking', but this was really a medley of '50s rock chestnuts such as Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Tell Me What I Say'.  Apparently recorded for a planned live album that was shelved, normally covers of '50s rock and R&B chestnuts don't do anything for me, but on this one Hunter and company literally tearing their way through the song with Ralphs shining throughout the performance.  Very impressive.   rating: **** stars

 

As you probably expected, the band's willingness to try out a new musical playground was greeted with critical and buying public disdain.  Most band's would have probably thrown in the towel, but these guys kept on going.

 

"Wildlife" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Whiskey Woman  (Mick Ralphs) - 3:38

2.) Angel of Eighth Avenue   (Ian Hunter) - 4:30

3.) Wrong Side of the River  (Mick Ralphs) - 6:18

4.) Waterlow   (Ian Hunter) - 3:00

5.) Lay Down   (Melanie Safka) - 4:10

 

(side 2)
1.) It Must Be Love   (Mick Ralphs) - 6:01

2.) Original Mixed-Up Kid  (Ian Hunter) - 4:06

3.) Home I Where I Want To Be   (Mick Ralphs) - 

4.) Keep a' Knockin'   (Richard Penniman) - 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Brain Capers

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD-8304
Year:
 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6243

Price: $15.00

 

 

Reunited with original producer Guy Stevens, 1971's "Brain Capers" found Mott the Hoople still struggling to find a sound that would satisfy an increasingly disgruntled Island Records and appeal to the ever fickle buying public.  Reportedly recorded in less than a week with most of the songs being captured in one take with little in the way of post-production work, this time out Mott took aim at hard rock audience just as those folks were getting into sensitive singer/songwriters and blues-rockers.  Unfortunately no amount of talent and perseverance was going to make up for lousy business decisions and sheer crappy timing.  Recognizing this set was likely to be commercially stillborn, Ian Hunter and company managed to turn their accumulated anger and frustrations into one eluvia impressive rock album.  Not only did they managed to trash the Island Studios where they recorded the set (they also managed to set it on fire), but they somehow ended up foreshadowing punk attitude and aggression a full five years before their contemporaries stumbled across the genre.  Occasionally playing with more enthusiasm than skill, tracks like the bizarrely titled 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus' and 'The Journey' actually sounded a bit like early Rod Stewart and the Faces.  Hunter himself sounded great (I've always liked his bellowing style), though lead guitarist Mick Ralphs provided the biggest surprise in the vocals department with his breathtaking performance on the band's cover of The Youngblood's' 'Darkness, Darkness'.  

 

- Besides deserving some sort of award for the year's weirdest song title, 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus'  demonstrated these guys could rock out with any of their competitors.  Starting out with a touch of Ralphs' 'scratch' guitar, the song abruptly exploded into a devastating bar band tune.  Playing like their lives depended on getting through the song, the slightly sloppy performance actually sounded a bit like early Faces.  By the way that was meant as a compliment.   rating: **** stars

- The band's cover of Dixon's autobiographical and anti-drug statement 'Your Own Backyard' was interesting in that it sounded like a mixture of Bob Dylan (Hunter's raspy vocals were about as tuneful as Dylan's) and early Elton John (the song's chorus reminded me a bit of 'Tiny Dancer').  The song started out slowly, but quickly generated some major steam.  Also credit the band for being willing to record a tune with a then unpopular anti-drug theme.    rating: *** stars

- In large part due to the fact if featured guitarist Mick Ralphs on lead vocals, if you heard their cover of Jessie Colin Young's  'Darkness, Darkness' apart from the rest of this album there was a good chance you'd never have tagged it as a Mott the Hoople song.  Starting out as a restrained, mid-tempo number the track literally exploded into a Bad Company-styled rocker.  Ralphs also took the opportunity to turn in one of the album's standout solos.  Their cover simply shredded The Youngblood's original.    rating: **** stars

- Penned by Hunter, 'The Journey' started out as a pretty ballad, but over the span of eight and a half minutes gathered more and more momentum, turning into a positively growling slice of ferocity.  Drummer Dale Griffin literally sounded like he was trashing his kit (shades of Keith Moon), while Ralphs solos were simply amazing.  One of the band's all time masterpieces.   rating: ***** stars

- Opening side two, 'Sweet Angelina' was responsible for attracted what little media attention the album garnered.  That may have had something to do with Hunter comparing his girlfriend's mouth to a snake.  A shambling bar rocker, this one had some punk-ish commercial potential though Atlantic didn't do anything with it.   rating: **** stars

- Penned by keyboardist Verden Allen, 'Second Love' was the album's first disappointment.  The song itself was a pretty ballad, but on this one Hunter sounded sharp and slightly uncomfortable.  The strange Herb Alpert-styled horn arrangement simply made things worse.      rating: ** stars

- Hum, think these guys were pissed off at their label and the public for totally ignoring them ?  Well, judging by the furious 'The Moon Upstairs' you might just have something there.  The whole band just sounded irritated this time out.  Blistering, proto-punk aggression with Hunter even dropping the F-bomb.  Hum, wonder why this one never gets played on the radio ...   rating: **** stars

- Credited to Hunter and producer Stevens, 'The Wheel of Quivering Meat Conception' closed the album out with two minutes of studio outtakes and irritating sound effects.  It may not have been Lou reed's "Metal Machine Music", but it came close.  The ultimate in-your-face to the studio and the public.   rating: * star

 

Anger and frustration - yap, that pretty much captures the underlying themes ...  Island didn't even bother releasing a single off the album.  Atlantic held distribution rights in the States and provided a similar level of support here.

 

"Mott" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Death may Be Your Santa Claus   (Ian Hunter - Verden Allen) - 4:48

2.) Your Own Backyard   (Dion Dimucci - Fasce) - 4:12

3.) Darkness, Darkness   (Jessie Colin Young) - 4:03

4.) The Journey   (Ian Hunter) - 8:31

 

(side 2)
1.) Sweet Angeline   (Ian Hunter) - 5:13

2.) Second Love   (Verden Allen) - 3:48

3.) The Moon Upstairs   (Ian Hunter - Mick Ralphs) - 5:13

4.) The Wheel of Quivering Meat Conception (instrumental)   (Ian Hunter - Guy Stevens) - 2:07

 

Naturally the album did little commercially (lots of Mott fans have never heard it), and the principals subsequently decided to call it quits.

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Mott

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC-32425
Year:
 1973

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6245

Price: $15.00

 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Mott

Company: CBS

Catalog: 69038
Year:
 1975

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: UK pressing; die cut cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6246

Price: $20.00

 

 

1972's "All the Young Dudes" made Mott the Hoople international stars, while 1973's "Mott" reinforcing their commercial punch with top-10 sales in both the US and the UK.  One of the funny things about this album is that even though it reflected a band that had finally achieved their long sought pursuit of popular success, it also reflected a band that was unhappy with the way success found them.  Much of the press portrayed the band as little more than David Bowie puppets (after all Bowie had rescued them from oblivion).  Hunter and company were furious with that portrayal which only served to increase growing personality clashes within the band.  One quick glance at the cover was all it took to notice that they were now down to a four piece - frustrated with Ian Hunter's increasing influence on the band, long time keyboard player Verden Allen had quit before the album was recorded.  Singer Ian Hunter picked up keyboard duties,  Allen was subsequently replaced by Mick Bolton and Morgan Fisher.  Bolton was gone within a couple of months.  With Hunter again assuming prime songwriter duties the years of wear and tear and growing frustration were clear in dark and depressing autobiographical tracks like 'All the Way from Memphis', 'Whizz Kids' and 'Violence'.  Hunter literally sounded like he'd had enough of it all - check out his performance on 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople - (March 26, 1970 - Zurich)'.  Go figure, but all of those circumstances combined to make for one of their strongest albums with Hunter and company seldom having sounded as angry or driven.  It also goes a long way to underscoring the fact they weren't a bunch of glam wannabes, rather were one of the era's tightest rock bands.

 

- A classic Mott song, 'All the Way from Memphis' dropped the glam trappings in favor of a straight-ahead slice of blistering '50s influenced rock and roll.  Apparently based on a true touring episode where one of ralphs favorite guitars when astray, the song had an instantly memorable keyboard intro (courtesy of Hunter) and a great melody.  Fantastic way to kick of the album.  Roxy Music's Andy McKay provided the slashing sax solos that accompanied Ralphs down and dirty guitar.  rating: **** stars

- I'll readily admit that Hunter's voice could be an acquired taste and that's clearly the case on the mid-tempo 'Whizz Kids'.  The song lyric (apparently about another band groupie), was actually mildly interesting with a rolling melody and the strange kazoo (?) refrain.  There was also a nice and understated synthesizer solo.  Still, an 'also-ran' performance on this stellar collection.   rating: *** stars

- Featuring Hunter and company at their most doleful and introspective, I've got to admit that 'Hymn for the Dude' was simply dull.  The only saving grace here came in the form of Ralphs' end-of-song guitar solo.   rating: ** stars

- 'Honaloochie Boogie' was another career highlight; one of the best rockers the band ever recorded.   rating: **** stars

- One of the last things co-written by Hunter and Ralphs (who would quit shortly after the album was released), 'Violence' was dark and unnerving, further underscored by Graham Preskitt's squealing violin and the bar fight sound effects.  The song made it clear that in spite of their glam image  Mott could hang with the toughest rock bands on the street.  Creeps me out every time I hear it ...  rating: **** stars

- Yeah, the car sound effects were cheesy, but elsewhere 'Drivin' Sister' was one of those rarities - a song that managed to meld a pop hook with a rock and roll heart.  Add to that Ralphs stunning guitar solo and you had another classic Mott tune.   rating: ***** stars

A concise autobiographical history of the band, 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople - (March 26, 1970 - Zurich)'  took you up through their collective decision to call it quits (of course we know what subsequently happened -  Bowie stepped in and convinced them to reform).  All hyperbole aside, this quiet reflective work stands as one of the best rock and roll reflections ever recorded.  Disillusionment seldom sounded as good - "rock and roll is a loser's game ...".   rating: ***** stars

- Curiously, the inner sleeve liner notes omitted the songwriting credits for 'I'm a Cadillac / El Camino Dolo Roso' (the only omission), but I'm pretty sure Ralphs wrote both tracks.  He also handled lead vocals on the first part of the medley. Most folks point to these two tracks as throwaways.  I've always been a big Ralphs fan and these performance reinforced my opinion of the man.  Yes, 'I'm a Cadillac' was a lightweight, but pretty slice of country-rock.  Nothing to get overly excited about, but if nothing else it made for a nice change of pace from Hunter's overwhelming intensity.    rating: *** stars

- Showcasing Ralphs' on multi-tracked guitar (electric and acoustic), the instrumental 'El Camino Dolo Roso' was simply gorgeous.   rating: **** stars

- Overlooking the massive psychological issues associated with the song, 'I Wish I was Your Mother' was one of Hunter's prettiest and saddest compositions.  It also featured Hunter doing his best Dylan impression.   Ralphs' beautiful mandolin accompaniment was merely icing on the cake.   rating: **** stars

 

The album spun off a pair of singles in the US and the UK:

 

- 1973's 'Honaloochie Boogie' b/w 'Rose' (CBS/Columbia catalog number 4-45882)

- 1973's 'All the Way from Memphis' b/w 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople - (March 26, 1970 - Zurich)' (CBS/Columbia catalog number 4-45920)

 

So if you're going to dive into their catalog (amazing how overlooked they remain), this is the place I'd start.

 

As mentioned, the album proved a huge seller at which point Ralphs tendered his resignation (forming Bad Company) - a blow the band never recovered from.  By the time the next album was released former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor (playing under the name Aerial Bender) had been recruited as a replacement.

 

"Mott" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) All the Way from Memphis    (Ian Hunter)- 4:55

2.) Whizz Kids   (Ian Hunter) - 3:05

3.) Hymn for the Dudes   (Ian Hunter - Verden Allen) - 5:15

4.) Honaloochie Boogie   (Ian Hunter) - 2:35

5.) Violence  (Ian Hunter - Mick Ralphs) - 4:37

 

(side 2)
1.) Drivin' Sister  (Ian Hunter - Mick Ralphs)  - 4:42

2.) Ballad of Mott the Hoople - (March 26, 1970 - Zurich)  (Ian Hunter - Mick Ralphs - Dale Buffin - Overend Wtts - 5:40

3.) I'm a Cadillac / El Camino Dolo Roso  (Mick Ralphs) - 9:40

4.) I Wish I was Your Mother   (Ian Hunter) - 4:41

 

 

 

 

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