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Mott (Legacy Edition)

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Album Review

Legacy's remastered and reissued edition of Mott the Hoople's most successful album is presented wonderfully and respectfully — not even the hyper-critical Ian Hunter can really complain about the way the label treated it. Historically, Mott the Hoople enjoyed chart success with All the Young Dudes, both the album and the single. The collaboration with David Bowie worked like a charm and brought the Mott magic to the studio for the first time. They had moved to Columbia Records from Island (in the U.K. — their albums in the States had been released by Atlantic). Mott had also signed with Bowie's manager Tony Defries. However, trouble loomed once again for a band that had seen more than their fair share of it . Defries' attention was occupied with Bowie's rising star and he had little time for the band. Terminating that contract, they also lost Verden Allen, the keyboardist who was so much a part of the sound on All the Young Dudes; he was a bedrock of their sound. He left because he felt his own songs weren't a big enough part of the Mott mix. The band decided not to replace him. They also decided to produce their next album themselves, against the wishes of the label. The album was titled, simply, Mott. Engineers like Bill Price, Alan Harris, and a very young John Leckie were important collaborators. The album itself struck pay dirt and was hailed as the best album the band ever released. This is an amazing thing given that a huge chunk of it is dedicated to lamenting the corruption and frustration of the music biz. Arranged by Ian Hunter who wrote or co-wrote everything on the set except Mick Ralphs' "I'm a Cadillac/El Camino Dolo Roso," the album contains many of Mott's best-loved songs including "All the Way from Memphis," "Whizz Kid," "Honaloochie Boogie," and of course, the classic "I Wish I Was Your Mother." Rolling Stone called the record "the best record by the best band of the early seventies." OK. That's easy to buy given the group's live shows, which rivaled anyone's, including Bowie's and the Rolling Stones'. Mott is an album that endures because of Ian Hunter's songwriting and a production that was immediate, adventurous, full of the sensationalism of glam from a band that wasn't, and saturated in roots rock energy and grit. The use of a chorus of female backing vocalists, Andy Mackay (from Roxy Music) on saxophone, and the leaner, meaner, four-piece attack presented Mott the Hoople in all its glory, presented Hunter as a songwriter who needed to be taken very seriously. The album cracked the U.S. Top 40 (number 35), and hit the U.K.'s Top Ten (number seven at its peak). The Legacy reissue contains four bonus cuts, too — even though it's a tough to follow an act like "I Wish I Was Your Mother," which closes Mott. First is "Rose," the rare B-side of the "Honaloochie Boogie" single. Then there's a demo of the tune, that's rough, rowdy, and edgy. Ironically there is also a demo of Verden Allen's "Nightmare" written in 1972 that never made it onto an album. Finally, "Drivin' Sister," from the famed Hammersmith Odeon gig in 1972 on the All the Young Dudes tour, with some additional musicians in the mix including Morgan Fisher, Paul Buckmaster, and Andy Mackay. The bonus material showcases different sides of a band who had arrived, fully in command of their sound and performance. In addition to the great sound and bonus material, there are good historical and critical notes from Keith Smith, the editor of Two Miles From Heaven, the official organ of the Mott the Hoople Appreciation Society. Like All the Young Dudes, any fan will need this, but more importantly, anyone interested in the music of the early to mid-'70s will find Mott a treasure that can still hold its own over 30 years after its original release. It still sounds fresh, rough, and gritty, and is full of outrage and fantastic musical theater.


Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Mott the Hoople were 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 its...
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