Mott The Hoople

ARTICLE ABOUT Mott The Hoople FROM SOUNDS, April 13, 1974

I`m not especially fond of these articles where the journalist speak more to the reader than the artist, but when it is done in this style I can be very forgiving. A great for one for all the fans of Mott and Ian Hunter out there, including, but not restricted to, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.


Mott find a formula

As Mott`s new album, `The Hoople`, hits gold in the States Ian Hunter talks to Martin Hayman and asks “how can you go too far?”

“I was sat in the dressing room before the gig, tuning up my guitar on the automatic tuning-up machine. I was there alone. Suddenly the door flies open and I hear `Look who`s preparing to face his public then`. It was `im – Mick Jagger, and David. I say `Well you`re not doing so bad yourself after ten years` – and so it went on – it was great. I`ve always admired him. He`s the guvnor controller, really, and that`s what I try to do.”
The scene is the Hammersmith Odeon, just before Christmas last year. Mick Jagger and David Bowie are paying a backstage visit to Mott the Hoople`s lead singer and popular hero Ian Hunter. The banter continues at a laugh-a-minute; later, during the performance, the two muckers stroll around the stage, unnoticed, watching Mott`s heavy, menacing act and marvelling at the way Ian himself has joined the ranks of controllers: the select few who can put an audience exactly where they want it.


During the quiet “Rose”, Ariel Bender fiddles with the stone in a bracelet he`s wearing (flash bastard). It looked as though he was looking at his watch. The same stylised London accent jeers from the sidelines: “You`ve still got forty minutes to go, you lazy sods.” Such was Mott the Hoople`s mastery that even when our two spectators make their way round to the front to catch a punter`s eye view, nobody noticed them… I know, I was right there in the front row. I had eyes only for the group on the stage. But David, silly fellow, blew it when he started pinching the girl`s bums…
Fuller of themselves than they`ve ever been perhaps, the band plays on and on… the safety curtain comes down… Morgan Fisher shoves his piano under it to prevent its descent… Hunter and Bender advance forwards over the catwalk into the very audience… V-signs are flashed and punches thrown… the bouncers put up a fierce last-ditch stand but the front-row kids, Mott`s long-time “Lieutenants”, swarm on to the stage… chaos. Rock and roll madness rampant.
It will surely go down as one of the historical gigs when the annals of rock and roll are finally compiled. At the final judgement, Mott will be tried in the balance and not found wanting. It was their coming-of-age, just as surely as “All The Young Dudes” was their arrival at the age of consent. For those who have never been to a Hoople gig and know them only through their quirky, eccentric and compelling singles their huge cult following can seem incomprehensible; and even their fans here would find it hard to take in the audiences which they now draw in the US of A. For their latest and looniest album “THe Hoople”, a week after its US release, has already gone gold. It`s a mighty long way…


And did you see Mott the Hoople on Top of the Pops last week? A mild sensation, to say the least. All those gorgeous chickies dancing away to “The Golden Age Of Rock And Roll”. A pretty contrast to the band`s act, the degutted emptiness of the mime, but so like the constant swirling, relentless motion of a live gig, a perpetual flux which has been their trademark since so early on, but now, oh so much more stylised and directed, from Pete leaning back on that huge, arrow shaped bass to Ian`s flamboyant wristy gestures round the microphone. But Ian doesn`t think that much of it as a single, thinks it a bit too throwaway.
Reviewers have thought of it as another rock and roll nostalgic disc; they`re wrong. It`s about the much trampled-on 96 dBa limit proposed by Leeds Council for rock concerts. It`s Mott the Hoople`s – specifically Ian`s – comeback at those who for supposedly well-meant reasons would wish to degut the music Mott has been fighting to make for five years. It comes straight off the streets, and out of the immediate concerns of rock fans. It`s like a speech, it`s a political weapon that can be wielded only by those with the power of control.
And it`s not nostalgic. “The last five years have been much more the Golden Age of Rock and Roll than anything that went before,” says Ian in Mott`s dressing-room at TOTP. He`s right you know: so maybe there were a lot of great records cut in – whenever your favourite period happens to be – but it`s as absurd as it`s snobbish to suggest that one period has the edge over another. There are more, and greater, rock artists now than ever before; and rock and roll belongs to everybody. It can`t admit to a caste system where the oldies have the goldies and the youngsters – such a shame! – get the post-Golden Age dross. Ian`s no youngster, himself; he`s seen them come and go. He`s not hung on keeping the rock and roll he knows to himself.


He does not keep much at all to himself. He writes out his views of life in his songs, and inevitably has become identified with his own observations: the public face is of one who`s tough, brusque, doesn`t suffer fools easily and who has an unshakeable faith in the commonsense and good nature of the working man and woman. But the more your life becomes public property, the more tenaciously one holds on to the remaining corner of privacy.
Trudi, his long-time American girlfriend whom he married recently, is wonderful at just pricking Ian`s ego enough: enough to make him laugh a little at himself, when he gets overburdened with the things he sees and feels compelled to make public; and a very real defence, too. One time at a reception or whatever in New York, where Mott are the biggest, a girl was making mouths at Ian across the room: Trudi urged her to go speak to Ian if that was what she wished. As she engaged Ian in some (presumably suggestive) conversation, Trudi saw a flush coming over Ian`s face; whether or not it was embarrasment or anger, who knows? But the slight but vividly attractive Trudi didn`t like it: more out of solicitude than jealousy, methinks, she launched a flying kick at the rear quarters of this appalling groupie. (It was left to the down-to-earth Stan Tippins finally to eject her from the room; hell hath no fury etc.).
But enough of these intimate insights – let`s hear what Ian, of all the rock and rollers I`ve met one of the most media-conscious, has to say about the group; with comments appended by such as drummer Buffin – also with his new wife (their reception was part of the festivities of the Hammersmith gig), and sorry, his name is now Dale Griffin; by Pete Watts, spraying silver glitter on his hair and talking about cars; and Bad Company`s Mick Ralphs, who they just can`t seem to keep away.


Our interview started with the usual criticism of the critic; on balance Ian liked our verdict, but disputed that “The Hoople” went over the top: “How can you go too far?” he asked. The album, of course, was recorded at around the time of the recent General Election campaign. It gave Ian plenty of opportunity to reflect on the political charade which the people of this country had to put up with: “I was sitting there in front of the box, watching all these actors, bad actors – and it really got up my nose. I wasn`t trying to be heavy or anything it was just the things that I observed. There are fifty-two million people in Britain and at least thirty million of them talk pub politics. But I don`t want to be defensive about the album, `cos I`ve got no need to be. I don`t want this interview to be a downer – I would like it to be an upper, `cos that`s how we feel now.”
Pressing the point I suggest that the album could well be a downer, and that even if the lyrics were only his own personal observations, the energy released by the music, by the group`s dynamic and involving stage presentation would be channelled through the slogans of the song. It`s a point which I always bring up when questioning Ian: he`s astute at evading it. You can`t have sheer power politics, the control of the masses, without a strong moral purpose, in my view. You have to direct that power, use it responsibly. In the past I`ve felt that the release of energy is purely gratuitous, and an end in itself.
“I don`t see how you can go over the top,” contends Ian. “Either it`s good or it`s bad. I don`t see it, Mott ain`t too far. As I see it, Mott ain`t a vanguard – we`re a group. I do feel a sense of responsibility when I`m writing a lyric – I don`t go out for cheap gimmicks. I think music is candy-floss really; I firmly believe in what I write, though I`m not advocating it. It`s the truth to me. It`s like Gleason says: `You can trust the music but not the artist`.”

Ian is just talking about his words here. When it comes to the total effect, the complete impression of the words and the music and the indefinable presence, the character which comes across from the inanimate wax, it`s total conviction: “We wouldn`t spend a fortune if we didn`t want to get the sound and the lyrics across. I mean I could`ve sung all the words on an acoustic backtrack and the whole thing would`ve cost two and a half quid instead of sixteen thousand.”
This is the very substantial sort of money that it takes to record Mott now: a far cry indeed from the ramshackle, all-flying-everywhere sound on their first albums. The madness is still not far away though. An incident at Advision made them less than welcome there: suffice to say that damage was done, and restitution insisted upon. “When you spend twelve hours getting a drum sound for the back-tracks and when you go in the next night and find it`s different again it does you in,” suggested Ian.
The end product is eminently satisfactory though, and figures speak for themselves. It will stand them in good stead on their next US tour; by the time you read this they will already have started. It`s eight weeks at six gigs a week, some nights with two shows. It`s starting to look like more than success, like really big business really. The problems are very real. Ian cites as the biggest single one that of keeping his voice in good shape. “The only remedy for that is a lot of sleep, ten hours a night, and keeping your trap shut, not talking. It`s not much fun.”
Did he have any idea why the Americans had taken to Mott in such a big way? Ian cites the examples of Slade and T. Rex, both of whom were trying to break in America at the same time as Mott – with more confidence and less apparent success. “I think they fell in love with the fact that we were a bunch of losers. I think we approached it with more… we persuaded them to come to us.”

Enter Dale Griffin for a word or two. “Mick (Ralphs) has been saying some funny things about Ian in the papers. What he`s been saying… it wasn`t right. What it comes down to is that Pete and I have a big say in what goes on, and Ian does the writing. There never was any preference in what material was used. I don`t know why Mick should think Ian was omnipotent in the band. There seems to be a feeling that the group is controlled by Ian, but he comes to us with his material and we sort it out. The only time we did anything that we weren`t sure about was `Whizz Kids` and in the end it worked out OK. I`ve seen the way a lot of groups work and for democracy this one is really good.”
About a quarter-hour later Mick Ralphs breezed into the room – warmly greeted by the Herefordshire contingent. He comes over to Ian and asks what the problem is, he hasn`t seen the offending piece. “Well Mick, I don`t know whether it`s just me being paranoid…” I slide off, for such conversations are the private property of musicians. Later on, Ian and Mick are sitting at the dinner table together, swopping old stories.
Mott have been offered various production deals recently. It prompts Ian to define his view of what makes success: “It`s a simple formula. A group has to have a good song, they must be able to play it well, onstage, with visuals, and in the studio. That`s what I look for. It`s as simple as that. What`s happened is that groups over the years have disappeared up their own arses looking for something original. I`ve seen groups who couldn`t play a song and they`ve taken people in.
“It`s a simple formula but it took us four years to find it; it sounds easy but it`s very difficult. And it`s much harder now than it was for Mott the Hoople at the start. My advice to young groups is work on the songs, work on the visuals, and don`t get too frightened when you first step inside a studio.”
Finally, and something by the way of a confidence, Ian told me that he`d been offered a movie part. He`d read the script, and liked it. Evidently he`s torn between accepting it, with a new dimension of glory, and his suspicion of the film industry, where he would be a beginner, a greenhorn all over again in games which are if anything less manageable than those of the rock business. “Go on,” says Trudi, with a good-natured mocking laugh, “you will.” Ian denies it; but deep down you feel he wants to really. But it`s the drive to lead really; maybe he`ll make a politician one day.


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: Elton John, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Refugee, Queen, Uriah Heep, Sweet, The John Peel Column, Little Feat, Sparks, Strawbs, Ducks Deluxe, Alquin,  Dr. Feelgood, Jimmy DeWar.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Dale “Buffin” Griffin (Mott The Hoople) FROM SOUNDS, September 15, 1973

Always refreshing to read an article from someone in a band that isn`t always THE interview object you usually expect. So it is with this one. From what I can read in-between the lines of this interview, Mr. Griffin was a nice and pleasant man. He was also gone too soon, taken from this world exactly a week after former collaborator David Bowie died. He was only aged 67 at the time and was diagnosed, at age 58, with early-onset Alzheimer’s  disease.


Mott The Hoople`s BUFFIN in the Sounds Talk-In

Interview by Martin Hayman

Drummer Buffin is nice boy of Mott The Hoople. He got the name from Overend, who modified his stage name from Sniffin` Griff Griffin to “that little bugger Sniffin” because he was the youngest in the group. This was a year or two back when the group had a different lead singer and played locally around Hereford. Buffin says that he now hates the name because it makes him seem too nice. He thought of calling himself – even more unlikely – Johnny Smack but their manager of the time, Tony DeFries, was not having it. So even now Buffin has his teenage nickname.

The group has been in the studio recently. What have you been doing?

We`ve only been remixing tracks, we haven`t been putting anything down. We had to do “All The Way To Memphis” for “Top of the Pops”, nothing new.

Who has been playing saxophone?

Andy McKay came along and did it. He did the “Honaloochie Boogie” thing too.

How are you going to arrange that song on stage?

At the moment we don`t do “Honaloochie Boogie” on stage. We`ve rehearsed it but we`ve never got round to putting it in the act. For “Memphis” we just do without. We use guitar and organ to take over the sax parts.

(Here it seems the question went missing in print, but I`ll write down the answer – Blog Editor.)

Yeah, I read somewhere else that we did it, it`s weird, perhaps they were mistaking it for “Dudes”. I don`t know where they got the idea from.

Which was the original Herefordshire group?

There was Mick (Ralphs), Verden (Allen), Overend (Watts) and me, and a guy called Stan Tippins, who was then the lead singer. He`s now our tour manager. See, when we first came down to London for the audition with Island Records he`d just got his jaw busted in a fight. Hereford is not the best place to be at night on the streets. Somebody came up behind him and hit him, they didn`t like him. And that was it. I think he was glad in a way, he was feeling more and more that it wasn`t what he wanted to do: what he wanted to do wasn`t his kind of thing at all.

How do you feel about the way the group`s going now, seeing that two of the Hereford members have now left? Do you regret that?

Yeah, we`re sorry that Mick left obviously. We were very much a unit. I think though that it will be good for the group in a way. Verden leaving was a kind of relief for us and for him because he was growing away from us, and it`s difficult to be in a group where one member is not feeling part of what you`re doing. It was the same with Mick, he was wanting to do other things, he wasn`t happy because he wasn`t able to write songs, I guess because the environment wasn`t right, I don`t know. The flying thing, that was really upsetting him too. We`ve got a very tight schedule, especially on this next tour (of the States). We`re sad to lose him, he`s a very nice guitarist. The new guy is a lot more extrovert than Mick.

Are you allowed to reveal the name of this Ariel Bender yet?

We can`t really say. It`s like Harrison when he plays on other people`s albums and can`t say who he is, which is a drag. But we`ve seen a few lawsuits and we want to keep out of it if we can. But he`s working out fine – he`s very much the same kind of person as we are. There`s no personality problem. We had all sorts of mad scenes but I think Ariel is going to be great. We`ve known him for ages, and we were kicking around names for who would fit in Mick`s place – he`s very much like Mick and he`s been a mate of Mick`s for a long time. They`re from the same area.


So as a unit you would not say you were being eroded by commercial pressures?

There was talk of this amazing guitarist from Colorado, a real ace but nobody`s ever heard of him, there was talk of getting him in, but we didn`t want anything but an Englishman really because we wanted to keep that thing of being an English group rather than some kind of hybrid.

Are you retaining the two additional members of the group?

Yeah, Morgan Fisher on piano and Mick Felton playing organ, they`ve worked out great.

How do they work out in terms of stage presentation, as they are not yet considered as full-fledged members of Mott?

We have the front-line three and they work farther back on the stage, on a level with me, to the side of the drum kit. It`s difficult, we don`t want to use them as completely anonymous musicians in the background, we`re trying to bring them – especially during this next tour – a bit more into the swing of things, more into the stage area. Originally we weren`t quite sure how it was going to work out, and they were going to be kept right back. But I think they`re going to become more a part – if not of the act – more a part of the stage presentation.


It`s funny that you should go back to the two-keyboard line-up.

Basically it`s because of the Mott album, which did feature a lot of organ and piano. When Verden left, the stage act became almost entirely guitar-orientated, and we just did a couple of numbers where Ian would play piano, but that wasn`t really working out because playing piano just made him completely immobile. It caused a lot of problems because he just stuck to one side of the stage and the lights couldn`t get at him and God knows how many problems.
It`s just worked out so much better that we`ve got two separate players. And they are so very good for us. Like Morgan`s a really great character to have around and Mick Bolton looks like being a very good songwriter. He`s writing things that are very much in our vein.

So it looks like they`re going to become part of the group?

Well we`re playing things by ear as usual. We hardly ever plan things, they just seem to happen. It`s like Mick leaving, up till when we started rehearsals we didn`t know quite what was happening. Things just amble in and out. I think we`re getting a bit more business-like, we went into the last album with a will and an idea. We were very lackadaisical, Herefordshire people are a bit like that, and even though Ian isn`t Herefordshire he caught a bit of that from us. He`s steered us out of it, and think Bowie and DeFries had a lot to do with it as well.

Made you think a bit more clearly before you went into something?

Yes, and channelling out energies instead of sitting round the studio getting drunk and then putting a track down. You can`t really do that, I was never happy with the things we did like that, because it works on the night but then when you have to listen to it the next day, or listen to it on a record, it really pisses you off. “Brain Capers” was the pissed album and a lot of people really dig it, but to me it`s just a pain in the arse. I make so many mistakes on it, I`m just ashamed of it.


At the end of one number you can hear me falling off the drum kit. I fell off the drum-kit into some drum-cases and I was there for about half an hour, they just left me there. That`s how the album was. We`ve got completely away from that now. We don`t sit there like robots and work it all out, but we`re bridging the gap between that and the old drunken days.
And I think with the next album will be even better, because we were a bit scared when we did that. We were still very unsure of ourselves. We were always very lazy, never bothered to work at things. We were always dreadful at rehearsals, we preferred to sit and talk about cars and things like that than start rehearsing, but now we have to do it. We`ve got such a short time to get it all right because the next tour is so important. We have to put our noses to the grindstone.
This tour is really the continuation of the last one, the break being because you have to go out of the country before you can get another visa and also we had to get in a new guitarist. What we wanted to do was stay there because it seemed such a waste coming back. It`s good in a way because it means we can promote the single.

Do you like being successful in the singles field too?

Yeah, it`s very exciting. It`s more showbizzy, doing “Top of the Pops” things. We`ve even been asked to do the “Lulu Show”, which is incredible. Thinking back a year or two there would be no question of that. I like showbiz. I like the whole thing.

You used to be such a scruffy band, even when you played the Albert Hall.

Right. We were – just dirty sweaty old rockers. We still are but the music has got more refined and there`s more to it.

Ian wrote most of the tunes for the albums recently didn`t he? That was his original function in the group.

Yes, that and we needed a lead singer with personality… Guy (Stevens) was looking for someone along the lines of a Gary Brooer-cum-Jerry Lee Lewis, which he`s sort of got really I guess. Guy`s idea was to have like a Rolling Stones-Procol Harum mix, being very involved with them, and always loving the Stones. I think he did quite well actually, because Ian turned up entirely by accident. He didn`t read the ad, we were just sitting in the studio, we`d completely given up. So he walks in, scruffy and down-at-heel, and we were all scruffy and down-at-heel, and it just seemed to work out. We didn`t know what to make of him, us four Hereford lads looking at him suspiciously, this red-haired character, because he was suspicious of us too, and that took quite a time to wear off.


It`s difficult to put a band together like that, four people who have already worked together –

– especially country people, they`re very closed, tend to “keep arrselves to arrselves, them buggers from outside, don`t want none of that.” But we all understand each other pretty well now.

What sort of reception were you getting in the US?

The reviews we were getting in the States of the Felt Forum gig spent ages exploring every detail of the New York Dolls` act, and the last few lines would say “Mott the Hoople were an excellent group, played really well and the audience went mad.” They just took it for granted that we were all right. We were a bit pissed off for a start, but then we realised that they knew we were all right and were taking the Dolls apart, see what they were doing right and wrong. So it was good in a way.

How was your party afterwards?

(Laughs). It was supposed to be like quite an intimate affair at the Plaza with about two hundred people there, but about six or seven hundred turned up and it was like this (does sardine-in-a-can impersonation). We got there and they wouldn`t let us in. Ian blew his top, he was furious. They flatly refused to let us in. The place was absolutely full of liggers and hangers-on and parasites and drag-queens, just there to be seen.
You`d get people standing up next to Sly Stone hoping to be photographed. Eventually we got in and there was nothing left. They`d had all the drink, all the food, totally ripped off, there were people stealing drinks from the bars, smashing windows, fighting with the waiters. In the end they threw the whole lot out, people undressing in the streets, never seen anything like it.
We were angry to start with but then we looked round and realised they were there to be seen at the Mott the Hoople reception, which is a great compliment really. But it was great, a night of madness really. Iggy was there, covered in plaster. He broke a glass and rubbed it all over himself. He`s a total lunatic, the only thing left for him is to kill himself on stage. He`ll go the whole way one day. But he`s such a nice little bloke when he`s straight.

It must be strange for you particularly being associated with that whole punk thing.

Right, I can`t handle it very well, I tend to shrink away from it. People who are larger than life scare me a bit, I`m in awe of things like that Guy Stevens I was always in awe of. It`s wrong really, I don`t know what I`m doing in a rock and roll band really, it`s strange. The only time it comes out is on stage. It`s like a metamorphosis, you get on the stage and change. But I think a lot of rock people are like that really.


Were you involved in the punch-up on the stage at that McLaughlin gig?

I stood at the back and tried to look menacing! But the last tour was a really calm one, there wasn`t any bother except at the Plaza. Morgan stormed out in a fury, Iggy had an altercation with the manager and a few waiters. But apart from that it was really quite a dull tour, except that the audiences were astonishingly large. The promoters were trying to pull out, Mott the Hoople hadn`t even got an album out, how can we put them on a gig? We went on the understanding that the audiences would be small, thinking that Bowie did it first time, so it`s just a thing you have to go through.
We got there and none were smaller than two thousand and it averaged out at three or four. Philadelphia was fifteen. They`d just had Beck and Sly. Beck had pulled about seven thousand and Sly about nine and there we were with fifteen, so something must be happening. The interest just seems to be building up very fast. I don`t know if we`re being used as a substitute for the recently reclused David Bowie, but they don`t seem to be going away disappointed.


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: Roger Daltrey, Roxy Music, Jess Roden, Billy Preston, Nick Mason, Home, Hemlock, Lou Reizner, Commander Cody, Elton John, Rolling Stones, Tony McPhee, America, Martin Carthy.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Mott The Hoople FROM SOUNDS, February 3, 1973

This is a really good one, not only for Hoople and Ian Hunter-fans, but also quite a bit about their relation with David Bowie. Sort of ambivalent it strikes me reading this. Band member Verden Allen would actually quit the band, as it was revealed in the next edition of Sounds. Have fun reading this old article!


Mott: Punk rock rolls back

an exclusive interview by Cameron Crowe on the west coast

It`s a delicate business being involved with David Bowie,” explains Mott The Hoople lead-singer Ian Hunter, while soaking in the California sun by an all-American Holiday Inn pool. “We want to maintain a group personality, yet at the same time we`re grateful to Bowie for having given us the hit that`s helped a lot.
“Bowie`s so big, though, you get people making observations such as… he`s taking us over… we`re one of his extensions… he`s using us. It`s just total crap. Rubbish.”
Mott The Hoople are in a bit of a dilemma, you see. Hit singles can be dangerous things, and while the success of “All The Young Dudes” brought to the band their well-deserved recognition, it also may have carried with it a definite stereo-type.


After a lengthy existence spanning three years and five albums, Mott have suddenly found themselves the victims of their association with fellow-Englishman, David Bowie. Bowie, who convinced the band to re-form (and also wrote the title track and produced Mott`s newest album, “All The Young Dudes”) is also responsible for creating the image that he has “taken the band under his wing”. According to Hunter, nothing could be further from the truth.
“We`ve always been like we are now… I`m amazed at this photo of Edgar Winter (on Winter`s new album “They Only Come Out At Night”) because anybody with an ounce of sense should know that the glamour and glitter thing is just the same as the flower-power thing. Pink Floyd came out of it and Bowie`s gonna come out of it. Nobody else is gonna come out alive.
“I mean, even if we wanted to, which we don`t, it would be almost suicidal to go out for all of it. I`m like a lumberjack, I wouldn`t look anything but ridiculous if I came on stage looking like Bowie. Everybody in this band is your ace heterosexual straight.”
The whole story of how the band met up with Bowie, broke-up, re-formed and recorded “Dudes” all begins last April.


“We`d had about enough,” admits Hunter in retrospect. “We broke the band up in Switzerland. We owed twenty-three grand and were having difficulties with our record company. So we got this demo tape from David Bowie in the mail one day, and it was `Suffragette City`, he`d sent it because he`d liked the band.”
Hunter pauses a moment to adjust his biker-like sunglasses and reconsider the ramifications of that last statement. “I don`t actually think he was particularly into the band,” he continues, “He just liked what we represented. I think we were about the first punk rock band to come out of England. He likes that sort of thing.
“Overend, our bass player, sent the tape back to David, along with a note explaining that we`d broken up. Bowie went mad. He was on the phone with Overend for about two hours trying to convince him that the band should stay together. In the meantime, the rest of us were having a party. All the pressure was off. We were finished with Mott The Hoople, and it was a great relief.”
“Bowie came over to see us about three hours after he`d hung up with Overend. During the interim period, he`d written `All The Young Dudes`, which was about the way David viewed the band and our image. He had already booked some time at Olympic Studios for us and asked us to just get together for the session.” Hunter pauses again, this time for effect.
“When we got to the studios,” he picks up, “it was just like magic. We needed a kick up the ass, and after that session it was just like the beginning again. We decided to stay together.”


Now under the management of Tony DeFries, the shrewd Colonel Parker behind Bowie and Iggy Pop, the band is now starting to work their way out of financial pressures, the factor that caused them to temporarily disband in the first place.
Another beneficial event was their signing to CBS Records only seven months ago. Now the only major obstacle remaining is to get out of that David Bowie shadow, a difficult feat, to say the least.
Hunter`s vocals are the most distinguishing characteristic of Mott The Hoople`s music and with the “All The Young Dudes” LP, it has grown quite Bowiesque, or so it seems.
“If you listen carefully to the earlier albums,” Hunter contends, “you`ll see that my voice has always been the same. It`s been the treatment of it that`s changed its sound. I`d always wanted presence on the voice. I listened to American music.. Randy Newman, I listened to Dylan on `Nashville Skyline` where the vocal sound is just incredible. The presence is just amazing.
“I just never had it myself… I knew it was there in the studio, but they won`t help you. You`ve got to know what you want.
“I did all the vocals for `Brain Capers` in two hours. With David, I found the sound I`d always been looking for… a first repeat echo. That`s the sound I`ll continue to use.

Hunter has always tended more towards the semi-spoken, semi-vocal treatment in his material. “Dudes” was far from the first quasi-narrative the band has performed. On “Brain Capers”, the band`s last album, Dion`s “Your Own Backyard” contained an almost identical vocal line.
“I guess I`ve always leaned towards that type of thing, you`re right. That`s where the whole Dylan thing came in…”
“Mott The Hoople”, the group`s debut album (released several years ago) unveiled a very much Dylan influenced band. Hunter`s vocals all matched, missed-note for missed-note, that of the Dylan of that period in time. As one astute reviewer noted, “It was an exact replica of the whole `country pie` scene.”
“… I always tended to slide down at the end of notes because I knew I couldn`t hold them. So, obviously, that`s where the parallel was going to be… with Dylan, because he also slid down at the end of notes. So does Sonny Bono… Lou Reed… David Bowie. But that doesn`t mean that I sat down and studied them because I didn`t.
“It was just that I`d never been able to sing; I`d wanted to, and here was my chance. With singers like Randy Newman and Leonard Cohen, I knew I stood a chance.”
After the release of that first Mott LP, the band, through their many British appearances, began to rack up a substantial following and went on to record “Mad Shadows”… a more consistently rocking album than its predecessor.
“`Mad Shadows` is the album you`ll find the most fanatical Mott fans behind,” reveals Hunter between sips of Mott`s Apple Juice. (An ardent fan sent the band a case of the drink after their extremely successful appearance at the Los Angeles Palladium.)
“We never wanted to be that rough… and we didn`t think we were that rough. It just came out that way. You wouldn`t believe what was going on while we were recording `Mad Shadows`.”
The interviewer takes the bait. “What was happening?” he asks.


“We wrecked the studio,” answers Verden Allen, Mott`s organist. “I don`t know, we were in a hell of a mess… and it came out on the album. The songs were pretty good on that one, but if you listen to the production work on it…”
By the time Mott appears in America again there will be a new album and single, also produced by Bowie and a new stage act to boot. Sit tight. Mott The Hoople have come a long way, and still have a long way to go, but all the signs point to Ian Hunter, Verden Allen, Overend Watts and Buffin sticking it out.
“This is your ace-diplomatic band,” Hunter states looking over at his fellow band members. “That`s why it`s taken us so long. If one of us freaks out for six months, we all have to wait for him. We`re too polite to say something.”
Mott The Hoople. They`ve been wanting to do this for years.


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: Neil Hubbard, Yoko Ono, Pussy, Jan Akkerman, David Gates, Moody Blues, Al Stewart, Atomic Rooster, Savoy Brown, Gentle Giant, John Martin, Esperanto, Captain Beefheart, Rolling Stones, Spartacus, Tom Paxton, Eric Andersen, Amazing Blondel.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Ian Hunter FROM SOUNDS, December 4, 1971

A very good article with this artist who represents the blue-collar, working-class more than most. This one you should enjoy.


Mott the Hoople`s staggeringly successful live gigs has been a source of constant amazement to commentators, who have invariably been less than enthusiastic about their music. The wild scenes which occur wherever they play come in for more comment than does their music. Lead singer and piano player Ian Hunter particularly has had his fair share of criticism from people at a loss to understand his hold over audiences. Here he describes how Mott the Hoople really works and throws some light on the reasons for their fanatical following.

(No journalist credited – Blog ed.)

Where have you been on your present tour?

We`ve stuck to the North mostly. It`s an area we`ve been to, but very infrequently. It was very gratifying, especially Glasgow, places like that where we haven`t been much. It was a good buzz, it was really nice.

Where do you come from yourself?

I was born in Oswestry, Shropshire, but I lived in Northampton before I came to London. I first came down to London in late `66 or early `67. This guy called Miller Anderson lived in the next street and we were wandering around looking for work.

Was the idea for you both to get together in a band?

Yeah, we were together, you know. I used to play bass then, I didn`t play piano. We did various little gigs and got conned by various little agencies that wanted to sign you for 10 years, purely to sell you when you caught the eye of some more reputable agency.

How long did you stay together, then?

About a year. We worked in this factory together, called Friars Brothers, in Archway, and we hated every minute of it. It was dismal, I had this flat for two pounds ten a week, so you can imagine what it was like.

Were you trying to make it as musicians then?

Oh, yeah, we`d run to the phone every dinner-time, we used to get half an hour off. It was a coin-box, so it was always full and you never got any dinner, waiting to find out if this single we`d done six months previously was going to be released in Japan or not, you know… then Miller got offered the job with Keef and asked me what I was going to do – `cos we`d decided to stick together – at first I said, “Well don`t” and then I said, “Well do”. I didn`t know where I was at the time. I was completely at a loss. I didn`t want to hold him back because I thought he was really good, you know. We were very loyal to each other at the time, but he was married, he needed bread, so he went. Then I got a song-writing contract with Francis, Day and Hunter. It was a bit of a fluke, I got on 15 pound a week wages. They had done this song with a 26-piece orchestra -unfortunately for them they hadn`t asked me to sign a contract until they`d done it. By this time they`d spent God knows how much on the session, and I was working in this factory, so I turned round and said: “I don`t want to sign anything unless you give me some money”. It was really funny, I asked for three months at 15 quid a week and if they liked me, an option of another three months. I regarded it as a summer holiday. They kept me on for about a year. They thought my stuff was good, you know, but they didn`t know what to do with it. Then I got the chance with Mott.


How did Mott come together? Did you meet Guy Stevens and he introduced you to the rest of the band or what?

No, Mott`s got a guitarist called Mick Ralphs, he`s a born hustler – not so much now, he`s pretty perplexed now, but he was at the time – and he hustled for the original group, which was a group called the Silence, from Hereford. He kept on going to see Guy – Jim Capaldi had put the word in, you know – but one or two things were wrong, which eventually got ironed out, and the four of them signed to Island, and they were looking for a piano player and a singer. They auditioned all these people, and didn`t get anybody they wanted, but the guy that ran the studio where they`d been auditioning knew me from me doing demos. He rang me up and I went down there afterwards – `cos I would never have had the guts to go myself, because I didn`t really play piano, C, F and G, that was about it, and I`d never sung before. It caught me at the right moment, though. I`m normally very insecure but that particular night I had nothing to lose, so I stormed down there, launched into an aggressive rendering of “Rolling Stone”, and that was that. I remember Verden, the organist, knew about half the chords, it was very strange, the guitarist looked just like the bass player, I couldn`t work it out. Guy Stevens was there – I didn`t know him then either – there was this outrageous freak hopping about. It was all very strange to me. Anyway, we met the following morning and he gave me the job.

What did you think of Mott when you first met them?

Not much, actually, it was really weird. I spent half the time thinking I was dragging the whole show along and the other half of the time I spent running after them trying to catch them up, it was a really weird sort of thing. They were country lads, you know, and there was this country-city thing. I`m city-inclined – I was brought up in the country till I was about 11, but I`m city-inclined and there was this difference in view.

Were they very much a local beat-group at the time?

Yeah, they`d been working for a little agency in Swansea, and the guy had told them, “You must do Beatles numbers or you won`t get gigs.” They were Buffalo Springfield fanatics and it just wasn`t working out for them in Swansea. We`ve been back to Swansea with Mott the Hoople and I still don`t think it really works out for them!


What sort of thing were you reckoning on doing when you first got together?

Originally it was a quiet group. We played all our own stuff… we had this weird sort of madness. We`ve always been schizoid, we like slow, quiet stuff, then there`s that bit of madness that you`ve got to get out, like a kind of orgasm, you don`t feel you`ve done your best unless you come off feeling knackered. Pretty much the same as we are now, but very untogether, very raw – pretty poor.
I remember the first gig we did was with Free, in Sunderland, which was like Beatlemania for them at the time, and the second was with King Crimson, and we felt like jacking after the first two gigs, but Graham, Free`s roadie, had told us it was like that for Free before, when they used to support Spooky Tooth, so not to worry. This last tour we did Graham was with Paul Rodgers, you know, he`s Peace`s roadie now, and he said we`d got it now exactly like Free had it then. I`ve always been a fan of Paul Rodgers, I think he`s perhaps the best singer in Britain at the moment, he`s got two sympathetic people with him… they`re really nice guys.

Why did you decide to do mainly a northern circuit this time round?

We`ve always been a London band – you know, anywhere north of Barnet we didn`t know what was going on. It`s not really fair. Periodically we get these letters coming in saying: “Why isn`t the band playing here, why isn`t the band playing there”, so we try to play there. We`ve done intermittent gigs in the north but not a big tour. It`s really sad, you know – I remember one of your guys did a review of a gig we did at Sheffield. Now only about eleven hundred came in at Sheffield, and he said: “Where were the missing hundreds? But when we go to Sheffield, there was about four hundred police outside, trying to hold out the people who were out of work. It was verging on riots outside the place. We were escorted into the gig – now you can imagine any head within 10 miles of there wasn`t going to go into that gig and the average kid just hasn`t got two halfpennies to rub together. It`s really bad, you know.


Coming back to August 1969, your first song with Mott was a Dylan number. A lot was talked at the time of “Blonde on Blonde” influence. Would you acknowledge this influence?

At the time I couldn`t sing a note – it was only using my vocals to get the words across, like a lot of people do. It was just coming out that way. I didn`t have the “Blonde on Blonde” album then – I didn`t have any albums, I couldn`t afford them. I`ve since acquired the album, and I can see the parallels but they are parallels, inasmuch as the Byrds were a parallel. It`s funny how some groups seem to be called direct rip-offs, but the other groups are regarded as valid parallels. In America we were regarded as parallel. There seemed to be this thing that Dylan had gone off from “Blonde on Blonde” one way, but we had mainly come from “Blonde on Blonde” and gone another way. But in England it was passed off as a bunch of blokes trying to be like Dylan. I mean, Dylan`s a genius, he changed the world, he made music into a culture. He gave the whole rock and roll syndrome validity. I should imagine he`s an influence on nearly everybody.


What was Guy Stevens` part in launching Mott the Hoople?

It`s weird, you know, he loves Mott the Hoople and Mott the Hoople have always loved him. He was in love with the image of Mott the Hoople, as he imagined it then. It was his image – Mott was him. He could never get it out, he`s not a musician. The first two albums were exactly how he felt at the time. There was the case of a track on “Mad Shadows” called “My Mind`s Gone”. It was really weird, `cos there was no lyric, I just looked at him and kind of sang it, but it was something that came out of his head, not mine, like a transmission thing. He was very, very forceful. Any credit that Mott got at that time was solely due to Guy Stevens. He was always a Stones` fan and a Dylan fan, and he wanted a group that was a cross between the two. That was what he was after, and we tried our best to live up to it, but we were untogether, looking back at it now. We thought we were God`s gift to groups then – always have done and still do, that`s why you don`t split up. See, Guy has an amazing head, but he doesn`t have an outlet for it. It`s all intangible, his end-product, so it`s very frustrating for him. It must come through somebody else. Mott was his transmitter, if you like. But then something else started to happen. We were getting a bit fed-up one gig because we weren`t getting the reaction we wanted, at the time when Island were getting really worried, it didn`t look like we were going to do anything, and we did a number from the first album called “You Really Got Me” and people started to jump about in the most amazing way. It amazed us. And the Overend our bass player started moving about a bit – at that time we would all stand in a row and I would sit all the way through – and then it got to “Rock `n` Roll Queen” and all of a sudden we started leaping.

This was after the first album had been released?

Oh yeah, `cos we never did a gig before the album, in fact if we`d done gigs before we did the album we`d never have done it! I remember doing the Speakeasy, and the whole Island record company was there, we died the most abysmal death. I`m sure everybody wanted to get rid of us. It`s to Island`s credit that they`ve always been amazing to us. Perhaps they`ve been a bit too good to us, spoiled us. Guy held the whole thing together – quite honestly, I never saw any hope for us. Mind you, we were all totally insecure. Perhaps that`s why the band is the way it is, we`re still insecure now.


How do you mean, insecure?

We`ve never felt any degree of permanence since we started, and we still don`t. I mean, it`s a funny game, rock music people are fickle. You can just disappear in three months, and we don`t want that to happen. It could go either way, so you have this hungry thing, this sort of insecure feeling with Mott. Perhaps that`s why we let off so much on stage. The whole group feels temporary, and always has – as a group though, not as individuals.

When was it that you first noticed this big reaction at your gigs?

I think it was at Letchworth Youth Club, actually! It was the first time we ever got encores, you know. They went spare, and we couldn`t believe it. Then the following night, we did the same again. It was all over one weekend, it just suddenly happened. It became more like a performance, before we`d just been sitting there and laying numbers on people.

Did you realise that getting up and moving around would be so effective?

Well, I had that in me anyway. The only reason I hadn`t moved from the word go was because I felt a bit of a twit, you know. To move round the stage you can look so silly, and I didn`t want to look silly, so we took it easy. Like every night we`d come off and ask Stan – that`s the guy that organises us – “Were we overdoing it? Was it too much?” and eventually we got to know what we could do and couldn`t do on stage.

Is this what put you on to the sort of music on “Mad Shadows”?

Well, we had this degree of madness, you know, it`s still there now, on the new album. It`s a really weird band. I`ve been an advocate of the slow music, mainly because I write it, from the very beginning, and I think we`ve done some really good slow numbers – I think that Mick and myself have written some really reasonable numbers – but somehow, when we get on stage, it`s like a minor explosion, every time, you know, we just can`t help it.

Who mostly comes to see you these days?

I think we are really a working man`s band. When we started off, colleges liked us, but as we got more flamboyant, this was replaced by club audiences and then concert audiences, and they were getting younger. Now I would say our main audience is between 15 and 19. We haven`t got a T. Rex audience. This is generally thought to be so, but we don`t get thousands of screaming birds, you know? I mean we get pulled off the stage now and then, but it`s not a teenybopper thing, it`s more of a working man`s hero type thing.

Do you think you`ve angled your music to this new audience?

No, I don`t think so. Obviously you keep in certain numbers which you know will get a particularly good reaction, but that`s an immediate reaction. But there`s two reactions – the immediate one and the one on the following day, and the day after. That`s what keeps you going as a group. You can get a great reaction one night, but a guy will only book you back for the same money. There`s no follow-up.

Do you think that people are still getting good value for money when they go to rock concerts, or are they getting charged too much?

Not in general, though some promoters charge far too much for far too little. But you`re going to get that anywhere. Where there is quick money, and a lot of money, to be made, and the rock business is a large industry, you`ll get the second-hand car dealers, but it`s very temporary and very foolish, because it never works. The only people who are still running successful dances are the people who have been very honest.

Do you ever see a return to small clubs where the band is not necessarily the most important part of the evening?

The dreaded wallpaper music? I`d hate that. I want people to come and see us, I mean, that`s murder, I`ve done  it before, years ago, in Germany, that whole bit, where people come in – Whisky A Go Go kind of scene – ageing Italians with their 15-year-old birds. I never liked that, nobody wants that back. I think it`s one of the most amazing things that happened, when people actually started listening.


When you`re on stage, do you get a feeling of real power over them?

Yeah, it`s a great feeling. I`ve always felt that, and providing you use it in a good way, there`s no harm. I think audiences do need leading – they`re scared to get up and do what they want to do because the people around them know them. They`re scared to appear freakish in any way. If you lead them they`ll come en bloc, let loose their inhibitions and it`s great to see that happening. Then that turns you on and you let yourself go. It`s a question of you turning them on and them turning you on in turn. That`s the general way it works on a gig.

Do you see it as releasing energy?

Well, everybody has pent-up emotions, either you kick someone in the teeth, smoke yourself silly, or you get it out some other way… I think we do have some level of responsibility to the people that come to see us. I don`t think Mott gigs are unhealthy gigs. The reactions we get must come from healthy people. We don`t get that sort of lying-on-the-ground, eyes-rolling reaction, we get a positive thing. This was the silly thing about America: they had a huge drug problem which they really believed was due to heavy rock, but it wasn`t at all. With heavy rock, you`ve got to be there, you can`t be on a different plane, you have to be there with them. So I think our reactions are healthy, and in that way I think we do a bit of good. It`s coincidental, it`s not meant that way, but it does seem to work that way.

There are other bands with strong allegiance like yourselves, Edgar Broughton, for example, who uses his popularity as a political platform. Do you ever think of trying to angle this popularity more?

No, because everybody`s level of awareness is different. You shouldn`t confuse your own level of awareness with that of a kid in Sheffield or Newcastle. You might be laying something on them in the heat of the moment that they`ll believe in the cold of the following morning. I would prefer to keep my political beliefs to myself. I sing rock and roll. I don`t criticise Edgar Broughton for doing it, but ours is a different thing altogether. I think that what you say between songs should be appertaining to what you`re doing at the time. Sometimes I`ve got a bit of a grouse – usually I just say the first thing that comes into my head on stage, and you get that off your chest, but I wouldn`t get up on any political format. It causes trouble.

You have a rather evil image on stage – with the shades and the masks and so on. Do you think it might be this that your audiences like, and if so do you find this at all worrying?

Probably so, yeah, but while they`re there get it out. But they usually walk out the door shattered, see? They`ve had an experience. They`re not going to hit anybody, they`re too knackered. They`ve got it off, that was Mott the Hoople, that was a rock group, that`s all there is to it. For instance, we have never had a punch-up at a concert, ever. If it comes over as violence, that`s what we mean at the time, but nobody would really believe it. We feel like what we are on stage, larger than life, compared with what we usually are. I feel a completely different person on stage, extremely confident – confident to the point of over-confidence. Offstage I don`t feel confident at all.

How does it come about that although you`d like to play quiet numbers, on stage you always end up playing the fast, heavy ones?

This has been the subject of endless discussion between the band and the people we`re responsible to. It`s just always been schizoid, ever since the word go. Sometimes I go through moods when I like just to play quietly – my dearest wish is to play a proper piano on stage rather than an electric, which I don`t play nearly so well. There are times when I`d like to play quietly all the way through and get a respectful reaction, but when I think about it I don`t know whether I could really do that and feel I`d done it – I always seem to have to feel not only emotionally finished but physically finished as well, it`s really strange, and the whole group are the same.


Verden Allen has been quoted as saying: “We don`t want to be classed just as a rock band, just playing the heavy fast things”. You`d agree with that, then?

Yeah, when we did the Albert Hall, the first five numbers of that show were all slow, but all the reviews reviewed the audience, rather than the music. Well perhaps they were being very nice and didn`t like the five numbers, but that`s what normally happens. But our tribe, our following, will always listen to the slow numbers, they`ll come up afterwards and talk about them…

… but the other night at the Rainbow, when you announced “The Journey” you said: “You`re going to hate this but we`re going to do a slow one…” Why did you say that, because the audience didn`t hate it at all?

Well, perhaps I`m paranoid about the whole thing. It could well be, it`s something we`ve had to live with for a long time. When I`m talking like that, our following usually know what I`m talking about. They know I`m not talking to them, they know that I`m talking to the fringe, people who didn`t really want to come in but thought they`d drop in. Really I`m talking to them. The kids who follow us follow us everywhere, they know us back to front. With the main following – we call them the lieutenants, you know, they`re the ones that are nearest to us and come with us nearly everywhere we go – they`re like part of the group, they come in and get changed in the dressing room like we do.

Like cheerleaders?

Yes, but they`re doing it because they get a buzz out of it, they`re not actually cheerleaders because they get out front and get into it. There`s about thirty or forty that you`ll find anywhere, then we`ve got little divisions, like in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, where they`ll travel to a gig maybe in Middlesbrough… it`s great because when you go to a gig there are always these few people there. You know you`re going to make somebody happy that way.

Do you foresee yourselves continuing to play to audiences like that? Is there going to be a time when you`re going to have to cool out on the live gigs and get more down on record?

We`d like to do both. We`ll always be a gigging band, though. If we haven`t gigged for three or four days, Mick`s up the office panicking, he doesn`t know what to do with himself, and Buff doesn`t know what to do with himself. We can`t stand not working. It`s come about in recent months that we haven`t been able to work so much, because we usually have clauses saying we can`t play in the area for six weeks before or after. We can`t work so much, which is the thing I really miss about being a club band, `cos we used to work seven days a week, used to love it. I would like to see us go like the Who eventually, been together a long, long time, they gig, they`re happy.

In general, why do you think some bands get this fanatical following?

I don`t know, you know? I just don`t know.


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: Deep Purple, Rikki Farr, Bob Dylan, Nicky Hopkins, Bunk Johnson, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Marriott, Frank Zappa, Roy Harper, Emitt Rhodes, Charlie Wills, Melanie.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Mott The Hoople and Black Sabbath FROM New Musical Express, April 10, 1976

This is one of those “double” reviews of albums that I`m personally not very fond of. But here you have it. Two albums reviewed for the price of one or something… Personally I find the Sabbath one a great collection of tracks even today, but Mr. Murray wouldn`t agree with me. Enjoy!


You too can have a legend like mine

Takes only two minutes a day – in your own home!

Mott The Hoople: Greatest Hits (CBS);
Black Sabbath: We Sold Our Soul For Rock `N` Roll (Nems).

By Charles Shaar Murray

A cornucopia of aspects: Compilations seen as examples of the Gentle Art Of Putting Compilation Albums Together, compilations as someone`s idea of the best and most important aspects of the artist in question, compilations as distillations of the essence of the artist and thereby lynch-pins for discussion of the artist`s Galactic Importance, Social Significance, Role in the economic exploitation of the rock-sensitive sections of the populace and occasionally New Jersey.
The Mott album was put together by the current incarnation of the band with the assistance of Stan Tippins, tour manager and close associate of the band since Year Dot.
It covers the CBS years: i.e. from “Dudes” (1972) to “Saturday Gigs” (late `74); the period from the entry of David Bowie to the departure of Ian Hunter.
It contains all the hit singles – that`s “All The Young Dudes”, “Honaloochie Boogie”, “All The Way From Memphis”, “Roll Away The Stone” and “The Golden Age of Rock And Roll” – the last two singles, which didn`t catch public interest too tough (“Foxy Foxy” and “Saturday Gigs”), and a clutch of album tracks: Pete Watts` big moment “Born Late `58” and Ian Hunter`s two melodramatic chest-beating keynote speeches “Hymn For The Dudes” and “Ballad Of Mott The Hoople (March 26, 1972, Zurich).”

Which is fair enough, obviously. “Born Late `58” is no cultural triumph, but it provides continuity with the current Hunterless Mott (who, after all, compiled the album). “Hymn” and “Ballad” are both crucial tracks, but the inclusion of both at the expense of equally crucial (and far more dynamic) pieces like “Sucker” and “Violence” balances the album far too heavily towards the portentious end.
“Saturday Gigs”, whatever its merits/demerits in its original incarnation as a single – the overly self-centred autobiography-of-Mott latter verses blow it for the far more universal opening verses – was just tailormade to be the last track on a Mott The Hoople bestof.
Still, those are individual quibbles with an individual view of the music of what was certainly one of the best and most important British bands of the first half of the `70s – and while we`re on individual quibbles, I still think “Honaloochie Boogie” sucks – and it should go without saying that anyone who wasn`t Hoople-conscious at the time owes it to his/her rock and roll soul to get this album.
On a trivia level, however, it would appear from the packaging that various old wounds dating from the Mott/Hunter/Ronson hara-kari of a year or so back are still more than a little septic.
The cover photo has Hunter – undeniably the group`s Heavy Duty Figure during its hey-day – unobtrusively stashed away behind Morgan Fisher, while Pete Watts in all his glory holds sway front`n centre.


On the back liner spread and the photo insert, there ain`t one single pic of Mick Ronson – who for better or for worse was a member of Mott The Hoople for a while, even though none of the present Motters have any cause to remember him with any affection – and the unfortunate Ronno is simply listed as having played guitar on “Saturday Gigs”, just as, say, Andy Mackay is listed as having played saxophone on “Boogie” and “Memphis.”
He`s also conspicious by his absence from any mention in CBS`s PR chief David Sandison`s liner note.
It may seem petty to go into all this, but it was a lot pettier for Tippins, Watts, Fisher, Griffin et al to turn Ministry Of Truth and attempt to re-write history like this.
Ronno was in Mott – no matter for how short a time and no matter how unhappily – so give the dude his due, boys. An album of this nature is supposed to be a picture of what went down, not a means of avenging old grievances. Be British about it, f`Chrissakes.
The Sabs` album, on the other hand, is beset by no such problems. For one thing, they`ve had the same line-up all along, so there`s no danger of the album being turned into a battlefield by warring factions. For another, they`ve only ever had one hit, so there`s no need to worry about conflicting identities as a singles band vs. album/concert band.

What it is – fanfare please, maestro – is A Monument To The Work Of A Great Group.
Wisely enough, it concentrates on the band`s early material; working on the principle that the Sabs` current young audience will be more likely to have, say, the last three albums as opposed to the first few. Therefore, the first two albums, “Black Sabbath” and “Paranoid” are re-presented virtually in toto, and its various successors are represented proportionately on a sliding scale (i.e. the more recent, the less tracks).
Mind you, it don`t make that much difference because apart from the reactionary intrusion of strings, pianos, synthesisers and other softening/broadening devices introduced to vary the monolithic belabouring of guitar, bass and drums, it all has remarkable internal consistency (when I was a snob – i.e. before I Saw The Light – I would`ve said that it all sounds the same). “We Sold Our Soul For Rock `n` Roll” – I think I`ve seen that slogan somewhere before, like on NME tube-card ads – is wall-to-wall pneumatic-drill riffing in wide-screen Skullarama, heavy as two short planks and monomaniacally psychotic/obsessive rock and roll.
I`m proud to say I love every beautiful braindamaged crushingly obvious moment of it. Cross my heart and hope to…


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 New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Woody Herman, Howard Schuman and Andy Mackay, Man, Roy Wood, 50`s Rock and Roll, Boxer, Al Jarreau, Bill Wyman, The Bothy Band, Mike Dorane, Billy Connolly, Fats Domino, Led Zeppelin.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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