Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mott The Hoople - Mott The Hoople (1969)

You're just a rock and roll queen, you know what I mean....

  

Released November 1969

Recorded at Morgan Studios, Willesden, London

Running time 39:01

Mott The Hoople’s debut album, in 1969, three years before their Bowie-inspired renaissance, was a competent, but somewhat patchy affair. A great cover, by the way, but utterly irrelevant. 

Because it is Mott The Hoople, however, who we all went on to know and love so well, it somehow seems as if the album is better than it actually is. 

Producer Guy Stevens wanted the band to sound, apparently, "like Bob Dylan singing with The Rolling Stones". He sort of achieved that, examples being the Dylanesque At The Crossroads (although it was a Doug Sahm cover, not a Hunter original) and the riffy, Stonesy Rock 'n' Roll Queen. Indeed, Mott were never far from being labelled as "Dylan influenced", because singer/composer Ian Hunter definitely was, and it came across in many of his songs. They also liked a riff or two, so a lot of Stones comparisons would subsequently be made. 

TRACK LISTING

1. You Really Got Me

2. At The Crossroads
3. Laugh At Me
4. Backsliding Fearlessly
5. Rock 'n' Roll Queen
6. Rabbit Foot And Toby Time
7. Half Moon Bay
8. Wrath And Wroll    
                                                                                     On to the album. Nicely remastered, it kicks off with a storming semi-instrumental cover of The KinksYou Really Got Me, that almost sounds like a studio jam, then the afore-mentioned Dylanesque At The Crossroads (as I said, Dylan was one of Ian Hunter’s perennial influences, in delivery as well as songwriting). Hunter's vocal is a little down in the mix, and it sounds a tiny bit under-confident as he had only just joined the group. The bass line and organ are impressive as well. It ends with some jamming style piano and drums as Hunter's vocals get more animated.

A cover of Sonny Bono’s Laugh At Me is not bad at all, with an improvised ending similar to the previous track, neither is the most obvious single, the upbeat, riffy Rock 'n' Roll Queen. The old seventies-style vaguely sexist lyrics are present in Mick Ralphs"listen woman..." address on this one.

Hunter's first songwriting contribution is the shamelessly Dylanesque Backsliding Fearlessly from the old "side one" and it is a good one, but you can't help but get the impression that this album saw the band go into the studio, play, and say "ok that'll do" in a "just happy to be there", rough and ready sort of fashion. I don't think they really thought this album through. It has the feeling of a studio jam pervading the whole thing.

Rabbit Foot And Toby Time is a vibrant instrumental jam that precedes Half Moon Bay, which is a bit introspective, despite a huge, grandiose, promising intro as the quality dips a little on the old “side two”. The track is far too long and doesn't real get anywhere, being far too ponderous. The album ends with more instrumental jamming in Wrath And Wroll.

Also included here in the bonus tracks is another Dylan-inspired number, the civil rights-inspired Road To Birmingham. It should have been on the original album, to be honest, as should Little Christine. Certainly in place of the two short instrumentals. The group's live recording of Neil Young's protest song, Ohio is great too. There is also a Jimi Hendrix-influenced instrumental in Find Your Way that is probably as good, if not better, (certainly than Wrath And Wroll), than the two on the album. I just feel there was more that could have been put on this album, and that it was something of a missed opportunity. Three more albums over the next three years would do a little to dispel that notion, but all the albums were ever so slightly flawed. Therein lay their appeal, however.

C+



www.mottthehoople.com/

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