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Rhino Hi-Five: Mott the Hoople - EP

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Album Review

Mott the Hoople's debut album arrived in one of the most eye-catching sleeves of the era, and the music within did not disappoint. Paired with producer Guy Stevens, guitarist Mick Ralphs recalled, "we'd go into the studio, get drunk, have a huge meal sent in at great expense, all before we'd play a note. Then [Guy]'d say, 'right, let's wreck the studio. And we'd knock a few chairs over, and then we'd play." Mott The Hoople would reflect this attitude perfectly.

In keeping with the band's youth, almost half of the album comprised covers: Ralphs brought in the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," rendered a churning instrumental after Stevens decided a vocal take did nothing whatsoever to distinguish the performance; Stevens himself championed Doug Sahm's "At the Crossroads," while Ian Hunter resurrected Sonny Bono's "Laugh at Me" from his own audition. Hunter and Ralphs, meanwhile, linked for the 11-minute epic "Half Moon Bay," a song that rumor claims is actually Dion's "Your Own Backyard" played backwards.

Ralphs alone came up with the instant classic "Rock and Roll Queen," an anthem on a par with any of the age's better-known chestbeaters; while Stevens developed the record's stirring conclusion, a 92-second slice from the band's ten-minute finale to "You Really Got Me." "The original take, following the three-minute song, was increasingly frenzied nonsense, getting faster and faster until chaos prevailed," drummer Buffin remembered. "Wrath and Wroll" caught the end of the full take. And because it was one of "Guy's orchestrated lunacies," he was handed the composer credits.

The best of the session outtakes have appeared elsewhere over the years; Angel Air's brilliantly remastered reissue, however, draws out a fine instrumental of "Find Your Way," and a live take on Neil Young's "Ohio" as bonus tracks, both of which remain perfectly in keeping with the album itself.

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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