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"…Hit The Sky…" – Mott by MOTT THE HOOPLE
on 1 April 2014
After three albums on Island between 1970 and 1971 that saw constant touring, critical acclaim but little chart action ("Mad Shadows", "Wildlife" and "Brain Capers") – Mott The Hoople were about to throw in the towel when they finally hit paydirt with the David Bowie assisted "All The Young Dudes" LP in the heady days of 1972 (the height of Glam Rock in the UK). With the mercurial Bowie a fan and his star exploding everywhere – the timing and the song was perfect. All they needed to do was to consolidate that fresh beginning – and 1973’s "Mott" followed through in real style.
The 9-track "Mott" vinyl album was originally UK released in July 1973 on CBS Records S 69038 – and this April 2006 Columbia/Legacy CD reissue runs to 58:42 minutes. The album was originally produced by the band (with Andy McKay of Roxy Music guesting on Sax) and this CD reappraisal offers fans 4 additions – "Rose" the non-album flip of "Honaloochie Boogie", 2 previously unreleased demos of "Honaloochie Boogie" and "Nightmare" and one incendiary live version of "Drivin' Sister" recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. Oddly the single edit of "All The Way From Memphis" is AWOL when there was plenty of room to include it.
It won’t take British fans very long to notice that the gorgeous gatefold die-cut artwork of the original 1973 UK LP with it’s centred plastic face and inner lyric bag is completely absent - sloppily replaced with reissue artwork. At least the 12-page booklet is better than the scrappy 8-page affair that afflicts the 2006 Legacy CD of 1972’s "All The Young Dudes". This time we get liner notes by Keith Smith (Editor of Two Miles From Heaven), detailed recording info, lyrics and even the D.H. Lawrence piece "A Sane Revolution" that appeared on the rear cover artwork. But the colour-photo montage that’s on inner gatefold is missing and the booklet’s impact is negligible when the original LP was a thing of beauty.
Offsetting the disappointing presentation however is the real deal - a fantastic new remaster by tape wizard VIC ANESINI whose credits include Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Jayhawks, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Hall & Oates and Santana to name but a few.
It opens with the full album version of the rollicking "All The Way From Memphis" which to this day makes me smile (lyrics above). The grungy boogie of "Whizz Kid" could so easily have been a rocker on Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" and the melodrama ballad "Hymn For The Dudes" is properly great Mott The Hoople - the "Thunderthighs" girly backing vocalists adding real power to a great song. The trio that follow "Honaloochie Boogie", "Violence" and "Drivin' Sister" show the differing song approaches of two huge talents – Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs – both giving Mott The Hoople Rock, fun and that fabulous British Rock 'n' Roll swagger. But again it's the ballads that get you – the 1972 Live In Zurich "Ballad Of..." and the lovely acoustic strum of "I Wish I Was Your Mother" see the album finish on a real high.
The four bonus tracks are a typically mixed bag of the good and the average. Favourite is the beautiful ballad "Rose" – the non-album flip of "Honaloochie Boogie" (a long-prized Mott item). Musically as good is Verden Allen's "Nightmare" – that is until he opens his mouth and starts singing – he’s a terrible voice. The reissue finishes with the huge guitar punch of a live show opener "Drivin’ Sister” – but it’s already appeared on the 30th Anniversary issue of "Mott The Hoople Live".
So there you have it – a great album and a properly fab trip down Rock’s Memory Lane. It's a real shame that the booklet doesn’t celebrate "Mott" a bit more (an Indie label would have splashed out 20-pages or more) and a few more bonus tracks would have sweetened the deal - but at least what’s on offer is sonically brilliant (a fantastic remaster by Anesini).
Verden Allen would leave as would Mick Ralphs but with principal song-writer and singer Ian Hunter still at the helm – the band would go on to even better things with their underrated 6th LP "The Hoople" in 1974 with the gorgeous "Trudi's Song" on it (see reviews for that and "Dudes" from 1972).
Now in 2014 - this remastered "Mott" CD is cheaper than a bag of chips after the pub. Get this nugget into your home right away...