Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mott The Hoople Live 1974

One of the more terribly under-appreciated bands of their time, Mott The Hoople was almost completely ignored in the U.S., except for Bowie's All The Young Dudes, which became their biggest hit. Their bigger-than-life glam rock style may have been a bit much, but they produced a string of excellent releases from 1971-1974, starting with Brain Capers 1971, an almost great record spoiled by a murky recording that sinks the songs in an audio quagmire. Then came All The Young Dudes 1972 and Mott 1973, both indispensable (Mott is my pick for the one record you should own if you only own one. It's their finest hour). The Hoople 1974 was less successful, but still had a few great songs.

And then Live, also from 1974, was released just before the departure of Ian Hunter. The band made a few more without Mr. Hunter, but they are...well, they're without Ian Hunter, and Mott without Hunter is, well, it's just not Mott The Hoople.

And so this live document, their swan song, fittingly, is just like a live version of their studio recordings- it's not perfect, it's flawed, it's a little ragged, not all the songs are equally good, but... it's Mott. Nobody does this shtick better than these guys. Big ballads, hard-rocking tales of being a rock star, aggressive, crunchy, power-rock glam. And Ian Hunter's vocals, all cock-strut attitude and panache.

All The Way From Memphis kicks things off, and it's a fine live rendition of one of the very best rock road songs ever written.

    I got to Oreoles, ya know, it took a month
    And there was my guitar, electric junk
    Some spade said "rock and rollers, they're all the same- 
    Man, that's your instrument", I felt so ashamed

    Now it's a mighty long way down rock and roll
    Through the Bradford cities and the Oreoles
    An' you look like a star but you're still on the dole
     All the way from Memphis

Sucker follows, and outshines the studio version by kicking things up several notches. All The Young Dudes is grand, and the perennial live favorite Walking With A Mountain rocks hard. Side two opens with Sweet Angeline, a magnificent song sounding way better than the studio version, and also benefiting from a hot live band firing on all cylinders. The record closes with an 11-minute medley that includes One Of The Boys, Rock 'N' Roll Queen, Violence, and a bit of the Beatles' Get Back.

It's a shambles. And it's shamboliffic.

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