on 14 October 2004
Personally (obviously!) I believe this to be the best early Mott album. I cannot understand why Mott die-hards consider it to be lame. Perhaps it's because Ian Hunter isn't quite as to the fore as on other albums (ie it sounds like more of a band effort) -- or maybe it is because the general 'vibe' here is more laid back . Either way, Wildlife is top notch stuff - from Hunter's plaintive Angel of Eighth Avenue through to Ralphs' (proto Bad Co) guitar driven Whisky Women. Only one query, the tagged-on live track (not a CD bonus, this was on the original vinyl) - Keep a Knockin, from an early 70s Fairfield Hall concert - is conclusive evidence of Mott's infamous/legendary live performance. Was the rest of this gig recorded? And if so, why the hell hasn't it been released?
on 13 January 2009
For most people, Mott were Ian Hunter's band: Hunter was the vocal and visual focal-point, the songwriter, the spokesman. Even today, some thirty five years after he left the band, you can't think of one without thinking of the other. Yet it was not always the case: lest we forget, Hunter was the 'late arrival' in Mott - and though he arguably provided the ingredient that helped them 'make it' as a band, he was by no means the only songwriting talent.
Step forward, Michael Geoffrey Ralphs - later to become much better known as a member of Bad Company - but here sharing songwriting credits equally with Hunter. At least three of Mick's songs on here - 'Whiskey Women', 'Home Is Where I Want To Be' and (especially) 'Wrong Side Of The River' are striking in their variety, especially for someone who became known more for providing simple-minded rockers of the 'Can't Get Enough' type. He didn't have a strong, or particularly distinctive voice, but this is very much an early 70s album, mellow and reflective and Mick's songs are well in touch with that vibe.
Elsewhere, Hunter contributes some of his lesser known, but still high quality, songs: 'Angel Of Eighth Avenue', 'Original Mixed-Up Kid' and the sublime 'Waterlow'(which he opines is the finest thing he ever wrote for Mott). The final track - a live rave-up version of 'Keep A-Knockin' from a legendary Croydon gig - is fine but doesn't really go with the mood of the rest of the album. But it's still loads of fun.
Four stars, then, for an album often put-down (unjustifiably) by the band themselves. Check this one out: you'll be glad you did.
on 10 March 2010
Despite their reputation as wild rockers, this third offering from Mott the Hoople is a remarkably laid back affair. Like all of their first four albums with island records, this album was not a great commercial success on release and was for many years very difficult to find but here we have it at last preserved on CD. It is certainly worth seeking out as it is full of hidden gems that are instantly charming and none of your friends are likely to have heard them before.
The band at this point very much shared lead vocal and songwriting duties but despite this manage to produce a consistent countryfied rock sound. Future albums showcased the talent of Ian Hunter but Mick Ralphs, who eventually left to form Bad Company, shows he can write material of equal stature. Whisky Women, Wrong Side of the River, It Must be Love and Home is Where I Want to Be are all performed with a light touch by Ralphs and show the vulnerable side of the hardened British Rockers that is often overlooked. Hunter however, even this early on, shows he is the master of the moving ballad and here he provides 3 belters with Angel of Eighth Avenue, Waterlow and the Original Mixed up Kid. There is a lonesome, melancholic air to these songs that fans of Nick Drake of early Led Zeppelin may respond to. A final live cut then finishes things off which is in utter juxtaposition with the studio material - as completely shambolic and raucous as the earlier material is controlled and mellow. This possibly left potential fans wondering why this offering was so unrepresentative of their on-stage personna. Unfortunately for Mott, they would be permitted only one more outing before the record company called it a day. Buy this if you want to discover one of the lost classic of British rock and hear how Mott sounded before conforming to the Glam Rock agenda of their more lucrative years after Bowie resurrected them.
on 13 September 2012
This was on first listening not Mott the Hoople as we knew 'em. After Mott and Mad Shadows-it seemed tame with Mr Ralphs and Hunter heading the band down the lanes of American country rock-like Quiver and Poco. Live, they were rockers, unpredictable-like what was going on behind Mr Hunter's sun glasses-cos you never saw his eyeballs and when he stood in cowboy boots, skinny jeans on-top of his organ cracking a horse whip above the thrashing heads of the audience-you kind of wondered what might come next. Not "Wildlife". This is more mellow. It has tracks that indicate they could have carved out an original niche. After all, in 2012, listening to the first two Mott albums, Mr Hunter owes a lot to one Robert Zimmerman in his composition of a song and Mott were progressive rock's rock n rollers. It is sad that they went down the glam track, which is a bit like forcing a pterodactyl into a budgie cage and calling it "Polly". It was never going to tame Mr Hunter. So this is a worthy album and to make it a gem, it includes a slab of what Mott was always about "Keep a Knockin" to remind the pundits that live, they were seriously out there delivering mayhem to the masses. The most listenable of this band's albums and in 2012, some tracks remain decent listens. But it was the watershed where Mr Ralphs took over the family firm and Mr Hunter must have felt a cold wind starting to frost his balls.