Saturday, 16 June 2018

Mott The Hoople - Wildlife (1971)

Blue broken tears hide away the years....


Released March 1971

Recorded at Island Studios, London

Running time 41:10

As pointed out in a review of Nazareth’s 1972 album, Exercises, many bands felt the need to go “folky” and “country rock” in style around 1970-72. The somewhat directionless Mott The Hoople, circa 1972, did exactly the same with thus comparatively low key effort. Even the cover saw the band posing, slightly unconvincingly, in the middle of a wood.


1. Whiskey Women
2. Angel Of Eighth Avenue
3. Wrong Side Of The River
4. Waterlow
5. Lay Down
6. It Must Be Love
7. Original Mixed Up Kid
8. Home Is Where I Want To Be
9. Keep A-Knockin'                                        

The opener, Whiskey Women is a mainly acoustic led piece of mid-pace rock, with some pleasant upbeat parts and a hook but it is all a bit undercooked. Mick Ralphs is on vocal and his voice was never that great, to be fair. However, at the time it was the equal, if not superior to that of Ian Hunter.  Hunter’s Dylan admiration rears its head once more in the somewhat subdued, organ and bass driven Angel Of Eight Avenue . As with Nazareth’s Dan McCafferty, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and Slade’s Noddy Holder, Ian Hunter’s voice was nowhere near what it became only a year later. All four of them seemed to transform not only their voices but their confidence and personae.

Wrong Side Of The River is so Neil Young it may as well be Neil Young. Mick Ralphs is on vocals again here, he even sings in Young’s Canadian whine - “riverrrr”. Waterlow is a mournful dirge of a ballad, with Hunter’s voice again not convincing. He raises it up a bit for the upbeat, gospelly Lay Down, but this is another track that just seems not really complete or credible. It is very, very easily forgotten.

It Must Be Love is a steel guitar Mick Ralphs song with him on vocals again and going all Nashville Skyline meets CSNY somewhere in the Colorado countryside on us. No need, Mick. Start rocking! Hunter’s Original Mixed Up Kid has potential, lyrically. Musically it uses a Dylan-1965-66 style organ and some more whining steel guitar. Hunter’s voice is at its strongest on the album here and it is not a bad track. Probably the album’s best. The “woh-woh” vocal fade out would be repeated by Hunter again on 1974’s Trudi’s Song.

Mick Ralph’s The Band-like country-ish rocker, Home Is Where I Want To Be is probably his strongest track on the album too, all very melodic and not unpleasant at all, with some nice bass bits, but this is Mott The Hoople. For me, this sort of thing saw the band going a dead end street at a pace. They could, and would, do so much better with later releases and Hunter with his solo material, Ralphs with Bad Company.

The final track on the album is incongruous, given what has come before - it is a rocking live version of Keep A-Knocking which reminds us that, yes, Mott The Hoople could rock. Time to start proving it! As Ian Hunter says in half way through the track - "this is the best kind of music that ever was". Thanks for reminding us, Ian, now keep on rocking yourself in future.

PS - the bonus track, It'll Be Me is far more of the sort of riffy, guitar-driven rocking material that should also have been included on the album. It's a good one. As indeed is the other extra - Long Red, an organ and clunky guitar chugger.


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