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The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Times like this it pays to be British – or at least have a region-free DVD player!

The long-awaited DVD release of The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople is finally upon us – October in the UK (followed by a November US release). Much like with the Bill Hicks documentary, I’m not waiting.

Video: Trailer for the film

The feature-length documentary also features Mick Jones of The Clash (who cites Mott as a huge influence) and Roger Taylor of Queen (Queen opened for Mott during their famous Broadway residency). It tells the story of the band from beginning up to the original implosion, plus includes the bittersweet coda of the 2009 Hammersmith Apollo reunion gigs.

Amazon UK has it here.

The official film website.

Official Mott website

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Blast From The Past: Mott The Hoople

I can’t help myself.

I know I’ve pimped Mott one or two times already but (1) we’re not getting any younger, (2) Mott The Hoople rules, and (3) what’s a couple of posts over fifteen months? Besides, all but one were related to the reunion we thought we’d never see, which some of my friends (who attended) are still jawing about (and judging by the reviews, rightfully so.)

And it’s almost Easter – an appropriate time to Roll Away The Stone.

Roll Away The Stone / All The Young Dudes

And do enjoy this great diary from Mott fan John O’Rourke, one of the lucky American blokes who leaped The Big Pond for the event. That great event can be relived via the official live album which can be ordered here.

But to invert a great line, that was now and this is then.

No, today’s time-trip is for a release that popped across my desk a decade ago, just after the luminous box set All The Young Dudes finally saw the light of day but before many more of the live shows officially surfaced. While it wasn’t the pristine capture that people have come to expect, consider the source of the material and the date of the show and be thankful that these gems surface at all. (Be forewarned that it’s for fans with a tolerance for bootleg quality sound.)

Rock’n’Roll Circus is just one of many Mott titles available from UK label Angel Air, who have unearthed and issueed great music for many classic bands. Here’s what I wrote for Consumable Online in 2000…

Recorded at the Civic Centre in Wolverhampton (a favorite venue of many bands of the era), this CD features the classic lineup of Mott The Hoople in April 1972, just after their legendary meeting with David Bowie and his donation of his “All The Young Dudes“. Although that track had yet to be recorded (and the band’s global popularity had yet to explode), Mott The Hoople sounds revitalized and plays this sixty-six minute set with great enthusiasm.

Perhaps that’s why “The Ballad Of Mott” sounds especially poignant here in its rare live appearance. “Just lately we started to do what we wanted to do again”, says Hunter at one point, and you can sense that this almost-defunct unit once again truly believed in themselves and their future.

Like the Stones before them (albeit only once) and Ronnie Lane afterwards, the band headlined a “Rock And Roll Circus“; musical concert as part of a variety/vaudeville format. Knife throwers, comics and animal acts took the stage in addition to other groups, which made life on the road especially chaotic, but also a lot of fun. In the liner notes, the band speaks highly of the late comic Max Wall and dedicates the release to his memory. Ironically, the opening band Hackensack featured future Mott member Ray Majors on guitar in a performance that obviously impressed Buffin and Overend Watts.

The sound quality on Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus is merely bootleg plus, but once your ears settle in, it’s hard not to get caught up in the energy of the performance. Hunter’s voice is in prime form, Verden Allen’s Hammond B3 sounds positively sinister and full, and Mick Ralphs is chock full of spirited leads and chunky rhythms. “Angeline”, later played at a much faster tempo, here retains the spirit of the original, while early staples like “Darkness Darkness” and “Thunderbuck Ram” (with Mick Ralphs’ vocals sounding a lot like Dave Davies) get solid workouts.

Ian Hunter’s “Mr. Bugle Player” admittedly robs “Mr. Tambourine Man” blind (so thoroughly that Dylan’s lack of a co-write is criminal) but gives due props on their blues-based take of “Honky Tonk Women”. Ralphs’ “Until I’m Gone”, the Who-like “The Moon Upstairs” and the manic “Rock And Roll Queen” are standouts, along with the encore of “Midnight Lady”. It’s a great aural snapshot of Mott The Hoople at a critical point in their history. Like all releases on Angel Air, the packaging is outstanding, featuring well-written liner notes and rare photos in the twenty-page booklet.

Roll Away The Stone

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Mott The Hoople: Live (vicariously!)

Mott reunion

For those fortunate  enough to be going to see the reunited Mott The Hoople (yeah, I’m jealous Rog!) I will be living vicariously through you. It’s on the wrong side of The Big Pond for me, and as much as I would love to be there, the timing is just…off.

But if there are others among you suffering the same fate as mine, this announcement from the Ian Hunter list should make your day:


October 1st sees the live return of one of the best loved Rock & Roll bands of all time: Mott The Hoople. It has been 40 years since this highly influential band formed in 1969, and over 35 years since the original line-up has played together. It is with great pleasure that Concert Live announces that they are recording the band at the Hammersmith Apollo on the 1st October to create an instant CD for fans to take home straight after the show.

This limited edition live CD is the ONLY recording of the Mott The Hoople reunion show. Presented in bespoke artwork, this is an exclusive 3 CD set featuring songs from their classic albums, Mott The Hoople, All The Young Dudes, Mott and many more. Concert Live will be recording the band’s show on the 1st October, selling this live CD directly at this show and at the following 4 dates the band are playing at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Pre-order this live CD for collection at concert or to be posted to you directly after the show. Order now to avoid disappointment!

Life just got a little sweeter this morning.

Best wishes go out to Dale Griffin (Buffin) who will be at all the shows, but health issues may prevent him from playing full sets. Fear notMott fan and Pretenders legend Martin Chambers will be on hand to pinch-hit as needed. October is really going to be Rocktober this year.

Official Mott The Hoople site

Fan-based Hunter/Mott site – great stuff!

My original Mott Reunion essay

Mott Reunion Blogspot – longtime fan living a dream.


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