Mott The Hoople - Mad Shadows (1970)

I want to thank Liam over at "8 days in April" for this pull. This recording (their 2nd) is before Bowie tried to glam up these English rockers. A respectable sounding album for 1970 too. This is one of those "listening" albums. It needs your attention from the first song to the last. Pure reachable rock songs to be inhaled all together. No stand outs. No hits. Just one complete peice. (Although...I really liked the first cut). This record makes you want to lay on the rug of your livingroom floor, twist a mary, all the while, observing the album's cover art and liner notes. (Listening to wax, the way it was meant too). Now if I could only find the original wax. Nice straight up piano...enjoy! - wino


In 1968, Mick Ralphs, Verden Allen, Pete "Overend" Watts and Dale "Buffin" Griffin formed a band called Silence, playing near Hereford, England. Adding then lead singer Stan Tippens in 1969, the band recorded early tracks at a studio in Monmouth, later dominated by Love Sculpture and Dave Edmunds. Stan was injured soon after joining the band and was unable to continue singing, but the band rallied and eventually signed with Island Records, moving to London to record with Guy Stevens as producer.

Stevens changed the band's name to "Mott the Hoople" from a novel of the same name by Willard Manus; the book is about an eccentric who works in a circus freak show. The band also recruited a new singer and boogie piano player, Ian Hunter. Hunter had replied to a music magazine advertisement which read "Singer wanted, must be image-minded and hungry." Tippens became the road manager for the band. Their debut album, Mott the Hoople (1969), was a cult success, and their repertoire included memorable cover versions of "Laugh at Me" (Sonny Bono), and an instrumental version of "You Really Got Me" (The Kinks).

The second album, Mad Shadows (1970), sold poorly and received generally negative reviews; as did Wildlife (1971). Even though the group was building a decent following, Brain Capers (1971) failed to sell well, and the band was close to breaking up.

David Bowie had long been a fan of the band, and heard that they were about to split. Bowie convinced them to stay together, and offered them "Suffragette City" from his then yet-to-be-released Ziggy Stardust album. They refused the song so Bowie wrote "All the Young Dudes" for them instead. Released as a single in July 1972, it was a major success in the UK, with the band using Tippens - who by this time was the band's tour manager - to sing backing vocals during live gigs. A Bowie-produced album, also called All the Young Dudes, sold well. Late in 1972 the band was going to record another Bowie song, "Drive-In Saturday", but their intended arrangement dissatisfied the composer, and their professional relationship effectively ended. Another casualty in the wake of All the Young Dudes was Verden Allen, who departed before the release of their next album, Mott.

Mott climbed into the Top Ten of the UK album charts, and became the band's best seller to date in the US. It yielded two UK hits, "Honaloochie Boogie", and "All the Way from Memphis", both featuring Andy Mackay of Roxy Music on saxophone. "All the Way From Memphis" is also featured in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.

Mott the Hoople's new-found popularity ultimately helped lead to the band's break-up, perhaps helped along by an exposé in New Musical Express of Tippens' role in singing the chorus of "All the Young Dudes", from a hidden microphone backstage. Ralphs left in 1973 to form Bad Company and was replaced by former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor. For contractual reasons, he changed his name to Ariel Bender for his stint with the band. At the same time, former Love Affair member Morgan Fisher joined as keyboardist.

In the afterglow of The Hoople (1974), a live album was quickly released, after which Mick Ronson replaced Bender. The end was nigh when both Ronson and Hunter left the group to form a duo. Ray Major and Nigel Benjamin were added to continue the group, which abbreviated its name to "Mott".

No Mott the Hoople reunion has ever occurred, though negotiations for one were attempted in 1985; all parties have shown some interest at various times in the idea over the last 25 years or so, though recently Hunter has ruled out a full Mott reunion. A full reunion currently seems unlikely, although in 2002 and 2004, Mick Ralphs toured with Ian Hunter, as part of Hunter's backing band.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...