Tag Archives: Mott

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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Blast From The Past: Velvet Goldmine

In a response to one of the posts about bubblegum music, a reader states that glam is like “bubble gum with pubes”. Vile, yes. Disgusting? Absolutely. But not a bad analogy.

Glam is bubblegum’s older brother/sister, more streetwise, more decadent, more overtly sexual, but at its core it’s still pop music with gigantic hooks. Aural glitter, if you will. These songs don’t hope to catch your attention with a wink of an eye; that would be far too subtle. Glam is zippers and bulges and leering innuendo – wham bam thank you ma’am.

Many films tried to accurately portray the scene; few succeeded. Velvet Goldmine not only had a great storyline – think Eddie and the Cruisers but starring Bowie and Iggy – but a killer soundtrack that still holds up today. I heard the soundtrack prior to seeing the film, and it only accelerated my desire to do so. Faith rewarded in both media.

Todd Haynes co-wrote and directed the film, which featured a stellar cast including Christian Bale, Ewan McGregor and Eddie Izzard, among others. But the music…ahh, the music.

My thoughts from 1998, first printed in TransAction Magazine


I confess up front that I havent seen the movie, although that has not been a deterrent to appreciating soundtrack records – they usually have little to do with the plot anyway. But I know good glam punk when I hear it. Shudder To Think does Bowie incarnate with “Hot One”; Placebo gives Bolan a workout with their version of “20th Century Boy”.

Also included are some great turns by Teenage Fanclub (“Personality Crisis”), Thom Yorke and star Ewan McGregor (a ripping version of “TV Eye” backed by Ron Asheton, Mike Watt and Thurston Moore, among others!). Plus how can you go wrong with Eno, Lou Reed, Roxy Music and Pulp?

And for those who forgot Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel in Mott’s wake, heres a reason to dig out your vinyl. God, the energy, the passion, the feeling!  So tell me again how the pulse of the music world had its balls shrink into raisins over the past few years?

Velvet Goldmine soundtrack

Velvet Goldmine film

Clip: Placebo rocking “20th Century Boy”

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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:

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YOUR EXCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITY TO PRE-ORDER THE LIVE CD OF THE REUNION GIG OF THE YEAR!

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!
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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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