The album described in this article, “Wildlife”, were album number three from this band. It was not the album that would break them in the US, but it would reach UK charts at No. 44, their highest charting album at that point of their history. More success would come later for this band.
Mott and the rowdy rockers
By Ray Telford
I am inclined to agree when someone talks of “Wildlife” as being Mott The Hoople`s best album. It sold well, too, but not quite well enough for Mott to ease the burden of responsibility they had to keep the thunder rock customer satisfied.
That album was a bit dramatically termed the `maker or breaker` for them. It contained less aggressive songs and in comparison to their first album, “Mad Shadows”, and their live shows it was a touch of tenderness.
Guitarist Mick Ralphs reckons each of their albums to be a diary of how the group have been playing at the time of the recording and adds that the various changes in the albums have been fairly obvious although they have always had to come up with the rowdy rockers during performances for what he calls their hard core of fans.
Strange as it may seem and taking their place among the three most convincing British hard rock bands (the other two being Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) Britain has never been particularly kind to Mott The Hoople. For a time it looked as though America might take them to the dizzy heights but as Mick explains: “It was good. The last tour which we just finished was our second and it was all right but we still lost money although we went down better than we did on the first trip. I reckon it`ll take a few more visits if we`re to make it in a big way but I think we`ll be concentrating more on appearances across here.”
“Really, though”, interjects drummer Buffin, “audiences both here and in America are a bit suspicious of what we`re about. Our stage show goes down very well across there but they expect the big visual thing from English bands. That`s why Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin are so big because most audiences like to knock themselves out over a band.
The current Mott The Hoople single called “Midnight Lady” is like a progression from the songs on “Wildlife”. Mick says it`s the nearest thing yet they`ve put on record to what they are like on stage and it is a very conscious attempt at getting a hit single.
Much of Mott`s earlier material was produced by Guy Stevens who did so much for the group on their first Island Records release.
“I still think the first album sounds great even though we`d only been together two or three weeks before it was recorded. We produced “Wildlife” ourselves because Guy thought that there were too many of his ideas going into the group. You know, he doesn`t play himself so he was kind of using us to project his ideas. Still he was great at picking material.
“He`s still manager of the group but he doesn`t produce us now. He`s a bit like what Keith Reid is to Procol Harum, really, in that he makes us so much more conscious of what we`re doing.”
Although Buffin and Mick are highly pleased with all their albums Buffin thinks “Wildlife” was a bit tame and says that anyone listening to it wouldn`t get a true picture of the group.
Mick: See, there are a whole lot of things we`ll have to get down to. People right away think of us as a hard rock band and little else. It`s because we`re not well known enough to start doing other things. The rock numbers are more immediate on stage and so we have to play them. Until we can get back onto a good level with all our songs we won`t be going back to the States.”
In a way Mott The Hoople have come to a cross-roads in their career. Their continuing success, it seems, depends entirely on whether or not they can consolidate and to some degree re-convert their existing British fans to where they are at now.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bill Graham, John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Annette Peacock, Jimmy Webb, Judy Dyble, Bread, Roger Chapman, Hookfoot, Bukka White, Zoo, Tir na nOg, Spirit, Quiver. Morning, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Writing On The Wall, Glencoe, Cyril Tawney.
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