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Drive On

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Album Review

Few bands have a sadder coda than Mott the Hoople. Top of their game for three glorious years, one of the U.K.'s best-loved bands for six, the group should have come to a grinding halt the moment frontman Ian Hunter walked out. They'd lost key members before, of course: organist Verden Allen, who composed one of the finest songs in the band's entire repertoire, the churning "Soft Ground"; guitarists Mick Ralphs and Ariel Bender, both of whom drove the group to distinctly different, but similarly spellbinding peaks during their years of lieutenanthood. But Hunter was different. Not only did he sing the majority of the songs, he wrote them as well, while his public image — long fizzy hair, omnipresent shades — was so universally well-known that, to many onlookers (the staunchest fans included), he WAS Mott the Hoople. Rhythm section Overend Watts and Bufin, and latter-day keyboard player Morgan Fisher felt otherwise. Recruiting two unknowns to fill the void (guitarist Mick Ronson departed with Hunter) and abbreviating the band name to its most recognizable syllable, the trio began work on a new album almost immediately — and one still wonders what was really going on in their minds. Of the five, only Watts had any songwriting experience to call upon; indeed, his "Born Late 58" was one of the highlights of 1974's The Hoople album. But any hopes that he might blossom à la an ex-Beatles George Harrison, or post-Vince Clarke Martin Gore were soon to crumble. The best songs (the first 45, "Monte Carlo," the driving "It Takes One to Know One") have absolutely nothing to do with the Hoopling of old; the worst (pretty much the rest of the record) are those which admit that fact. Mott emerged a dour, dry little record, its contents content to scour the rockiest edges of the old band's charm, but with none of the humor, none of the élan, and certainly none of the temperamental flash which made the original band so special. And to think, this was only their first album.

Customer Reviews


I never understood why this record gets so much hate! It's a very solid record by a band that tried to continue on after losing their star singer. Highly recommended!


This record was so forgettable, I'm surprised iTunes has even bothered. I must admit that I kinda liked "I'll Tell You Something" and "Stiff Upper Lip" but that was it. Obviously, you should be looking at the Ian Hunter era, especially "Mott" (the record, of course, not the abbreviated band name).

not so fast...

I'm one of the most die hard Hoople fans of all time, so... of course, it's not up to the highest standards of one of the seminal bands of rock and roll, but there's more than a bit of glimmer from the old days left. It's worth a listen, and despite what most of the critics say, there's five very tasty treats here. I can still hear the driving force behind the old band here... but clearly, Hunter is utterly irreplaceable. I give props to Watts for pulling this together, and when it came out, I devoured it immediately - still smarting over the departure of Hunter and Ralphs. If nothing else, download "By tonight" and "Takes One to Know One"... money well spent. Long live Mott the Hoople


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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