Mott The Hoople
were always a bit of a cartoon rock band, with ridiculous Spinal Tap
undertones never that far from the surface: Ian Hunter's corkscrew hair and sub-Dylan stylings, the chunky-chunk guitar boogies, those many irksome ballads about the rock'n'roll lifestyle that ruined their albums, abominable lyrics about groupies, the kids on the street, etc and the glam period clothing and "rock god" moves (see this ridiculous pic
from the glory days of Top Of The Pops - a picture IS worth a thousand words some times).
But even all this could not dissuade me from adoring them. And, psssst, maybe it's exactly what drew them to me in the first place. I suppose they were brought into my sphere of listening only by the Bowie connection, really. [Why DB would ever give away one of his most listenable, catchy, monumental songs - "All The Young Dudes" - to a bunch of 3 strikes yer out B-grade rockers is one of Glam's most unanswerable questions]. Less stridently working class than Slade
, less ridiculous looking in high heels than The Sweet
, less older looking that Gary Glitter or Alvin Stardust (sort of) they were, undeniably, writers of a few great tunes.
mp3: Sweet Angeline
Their 1st 3 albums were all over the place and filled with cover versions. But on "Brain Capers" they reached some sort of quality control even if it flopped dismally and they almost collapsed from inertia. 'Sweet Angeline' is one of the better tracks with thumping bass and piano, chunky, simplistic guitars, swirling organ fills and Hunter's trademark nasally Dylan impersonation.
mp3: Soft Ground
When Bowie saved (made) their career they released the "All The Young Dudes" album which, basically, sounded much the same as the last. 'Sucker' shows the Bowie production influence with sax on the chorus and a little lighter touch in the arrangement. You'll have to try to ignore the lyrics which are as obvious as you can imagine. 'Soft Ground' does a weird impersonation of organ driven Deep Purple or some other hard rock band of the time - a curiosity, really, but quite effective in it's own little way.
Now part of the Glam Rock heirarchy, "Mott" was released in 1973 with their best collection of songs. It was the last album for Mick Relphs too who went onto fame in the mildly excreble "Bad Company". 'Violence' is one of those great epic rock songs with sound effects and a marvellous tune and, yes, a lovely violin solo.
mp3: Crash Street Kids
'Crash Street Kids' from 74's "The Hoople" continues in that grand, wave yer hands in the air manner. The production's a bit dulled by this stage unfortunately and, if you didn't know better, this could easily be The Sweet at their best!
mp3: All The Way From Memphis
From the same year is this live version of one of their main hits, released on the "Live (30th Anniversary Edition)" cd. The album version is quite pretty in it's way, all piano and highlights but this one is full-on guitar overdrive, flattened out to something only slightly recognisable as they get through the last part of their set, thinking of the joys of the backstage to come.
Yes, they're a silly band but they remain a lovely, guilty pleasure.