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Rock and Roll Queen

Mott the Hoople

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Album Review

Originally released in the U.K. during the first flurry of excitement following Mott the Hoople's 1972 breakthrough, Rock and Roll Queen is both an excellent introduction to the group's pre-"All the Young Dudes" background, and a vivid portrait of why it took them so long to actually make it. Just four of the eight tracks are what one would consider truly representative of Mott's early powers — the title track, of course, the claustrophobic hard rockers "Walking With a Mountain" and "Thunderbuck Ram," and the grinding "Death May Be Your Santa Claus." The remainder can be summed up either as novelty fragments ("The Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception"), entertaining throwaways (an instrumental cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and the non-album "Midnight Lady"), or live spacefillers — eight minutes of Little Richard's "Keep a Knocking" were out of place enough on the otherwise sublime Wildlife album. They have no business whatsoever on a putative best-of. But it is that very inconsistency which made the original albums the minor/ignored classics they undoubtedly were — Bowie, after all, gave the band more than a major hit single; he also introduced discipline and order to the ranks, focusing vocalist Ian Hunter on a role as leader, and reminding him that even democracies need some kind of game plan. After Bowie, Mott albums were focused tight as a drum. Before him, they sprawled all over the place, and Rock and Roll Queen sprawls with them. Indeed, that might even be why it continues to occupy such a resolute place in the heart of the true fan, long after both its contents and its purposes have been superseded by subsequent anthologies. There is nothing here which cannot be as easily obtained elsewhere, with even the once super-rare "Midnight Lady," a Shadow Morton production conceived as a between-albums 45, now as familiar as any of its stablemates. But Rock and Roll Queen lives on regardless, the first Mott the Hoople compilation and, for all its brevity, faults, and idiosyncrasies, still one of the most breathtaking. This band knew no fear.

Biography

Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Mott the Hoople are one of the great also-rans in the history of rock & roll. Though Mott scored a number of album rock hits in the early '70s, the band never quite broke through into the mainstream. Nevertheless, their nasty fusion of heavy metal, glam rock, and Bob Dylan's sneering hipster cynicism provided the groundwork for many British punk bands, most notably the Clash. At the center of Mott the Hoople was lead vocalist/pianist Ian Hunter, a late addition to the band who developed into...
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Rock and Roll Queen, Mott the Hoople
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