Prior to Mott The Hoople being given the kiss of life by David Bowie, in his support and decision to offer Mott (by far) their most successful hit record in the Bowie-penned title song, this great band were on the verge of calling it quits, early in 1972. That they didn't is a true musical blessing, not least for yours truly, who was then able to witness them live - my first ever gig (in 1973), and supported at the legendary Chatham Central Hall(!) by (the much inferior) Queen. By the time of the gig Mott had, unfortunately, dispensed with the services of legendary guitarist (and songwriter) Mick Ralphs (who went on to play in - the also much inferior - Bad Company). In his place appeared Ariel Bender (I kid you not with the name!), a mindblowingly extravagant (and technically brilliant) guitarist, visually straight out of Sweet, but actually straight out of band Spooky Tooth (who incidentally also provided drummer Mike Kellie to later punk band The Only Ones).
For me, Mott The Hoople produced two masterpiece albums, this one, and the follow-up, Mott. I have a slight preference for All The Young Dudes, but both are essential in the record collection of anyone who appreciates the 'glam rock' (an unfairly, much derided and belittled term) greats that were David Bowie, T.Rex, Roxy Music, Lou Reed and their ilk. Whilst this album does contain one or two journeyman songs in Sucker and, arguably, Momma's Little Jewel, it is otherwise a collection of masterful songs. As well as the brilliant title song, Mott also produced a superb cover of Lou Reed's Velvets-era song, Sweet Jane, featuring Ralphs' semi-acoustic guitar opening and Ian Hunter's impassioned vocal. Other inspirational band-penned songs include One Of The Boys, Ralphs' own Ready For Love, Hunter's superb Bowie-inspired Jerkin' Crocus and keyboard player, Verden Allen's psychedelic Soft Ground.
Perhaps the album's masterpiece, however, is the closing sub-three minute, sublime gem of a song that is Sea Diver. With orchestral arrangements by Mick Ronson, this song competes with all those heavenly, near-perfect pieces of music such as Lady Grinning Soul, Perfect Day, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, A Beard Of Stars, Reno Dakota, Welcome To The Working Week, Ride A White Swan, etc. It was also one of Morrissey's Desert Island Discs! Incredibly, Hunter is still performing this masterpiece live at the age of 70!
As extras, the CD also includes various demo versions of songs from the album which are of moderate interest.
A highly recommended listen.