The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mott The Hoople

1-25-08 Mott The Hoople

I have previously written about my interest in Island Records from England – and Mott The Hoople were definitely one of the groups that I heard purely because they were on Island. I believe I got “Mad Shadows” first – then their debut…and it took a while to get the next two – no, my copy of “Brain Capers” doesn’t still have it’s ‘party mask’ included!

What I will say is that now I have the first four MTH albums on CD from Angel Air Records in England. I have listened to all four recently and still enjoy them a lot, particularly “Mad Shadows”, the one I always did like. All respect to Guy Stevens, their enigmatic producer – all the tales of his ‘working the band into a frenzy’ etc.

As a youth, after “Mad Shadows” I next ran into Mott The Hoople on the back of my discovery of David Bowie. The “All The Young Dudes” b/w “One Of The Boys” 7” provided a good excuse to re-evaluate MTH. My Bowie fandom didn’t last – after the bright flame of “Ziggy Stardust”, I wasn’t all that into “Aladdin Sane”. My MTH fandom kind of died with my Bowie fandom. I guess.

I have really been into UK 70’s glam rock since an ’03 visit to Japan – and the CBS era MTH albums all made themselves apparent to me more recently. So, it took 40 years for me to hear all of the ‘proper’ MTH albums – but the verdict is strictly ‘thumbs up’! Naturally, my glam interests made me try Ian Hunter’s first solo album, “Overnight Angels” – I guess it will take me another 40 years to digest Hunter’s solo career. I always found it interesting that British reviewers always seemed to make a lot out of the mild fact that Hunter sounded something like Bob Dylan – I always thought he sounded / acted a bit more like Mick Jagger! “…with his Beatles and his Stones…”

Now we get to the “not progressive enough” argument: another reason I likely didn’t carry on with MTH at the time was that by ‘72/3, I was totally into German artists like Neu!, Harmonia, Cluster, Faust, Can, Amon Duul II et al. Electronic music, if you will. MTH were a rock band, not entirely unlike The Rolling Stones, for instance. Mainstream rock music. Not progressive rock, which is what I was after as a teenager.

It’s much easier for me to fully embrace the first four (Island) MTH albums these days. The Angel Air re-mastered CD’s sound great, and have great, extensive liner notes. All have bonus tracks, but often I only play the tracks on CD’s that constitute the original vinyl release. I do like the first few CBS MTH albums, but…re-compartmentalized as “UK 70’s glam rock”. In fact, I think it would be really fun to listen to the Island UK LP catalogue, catalogue numbers ILPS 9100 to, say, ILPS 9200 (the first Roxy Music album!) (roughly ’69 – ’72). What a truckload of great rock music that would be, eh, readers? That would certainly get you at least the first four MTH LP’s!

Seems to me that there needs to be a proper Guy Stevens biography and CD boxed set of his ‘notorious’ productions.

"How Long...?"


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Of the Island MTH LPs, I only have Mad Shadows and in a Ron-like move, I have not yet listened to it after over a decade of ownership! I think "Dudes" and "Mott" are overrated. But I am in awe of "The Hoople!" I have been ever since buying that $0.99 cutout in K-mart after enjoying Ian Hunter's solo career on Chrysalis. The years when I didn't have a copy hurt and was I ever glad to finally grab a used CD of that back in Ohio, hio, hio, hio.

Now I always thought that Ian Hunter was the missing link between Dylan and The Rolling Stones! He seemed to want to mate Dylan's literate lyricism with Stones raunch. Not always at the same time, mind you. But those are the poles on the continuum in which his muse flows.

I have always appreciated Ian Hunter's work. I maintain that if all of mainstream rock had been as smartly crafted, there might not have been such a dire need for punk. As it was, his output is certainly on record as being inspirational to many of the UK 1st gen punks [c.f Clash, Gen X].

I have many but not all of Ian's solo albums. The Chrysalis years are a high point for me. "You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic" is what I listen to when I want to enjoy satisfying mainstream rock that hits high points in a number of sub-genres. You even get John Cale contributing to the nastiest diatribe not on one of his own records ["Bastard"].

When I want a live album of rock music, I will state that, sloppy editing and all, "Welcome To The Club" can't be beat for a career overview and some real sweaty excitement courtesy of a hot band led by Mick Ronson. And I even like "Short Back & Sides" where Mick Jones produced and boy did it sound it.

Though New Wave was a-poppin' at the time, I had no trouble accommodating Hunter's solo work. Like Pete Townshend, he was a mainstream rocker that bore my continued interest even in the face of outre postpunk due to his thoughtful artistry.

8:29 AM  

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