Why Mott The Hoople Matters


Mott The Hoople At The Orpheum Theater, Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday April 9, 2019 7:30 Pm

Mott The Hoople ’74 is Ian Hunter (vocals and guitar), Ariel Bender (guitar) and Morgan Fisher (keyboards) joined by James Mastro (guitar, saxophone, mandolin), Steve Holley (drums, backing vocals), Mark Bosch (guitar), Paul Page (bass) and Dennis Dibrizzi (keyboards, backing vocals).

The most exciting concert on the books at this moment in time! Check out this YouTube preview from John Beaudin and


Three years before the release of the All The Young Dudes album on Columbia records there were four albums on Island in the U.K. and Atlantic in the United States worthy of your attention. Those 4 Atlantic discs were a delight to this teenager back in the late sixties early 1970’s, especially the songs “The Moon Upstairs,” “Death Will Be Your Santa Claus,” “The Journey,” “Rock and Roll Queen,” and covers of “You Really Got Me” and Sonny Bono’s “Laugh at Me.”

Those early Mott the Hoople music, three albums produced by Guy Stevens, one by Mott, and the compilation Rock and Roll Queen, contain key recordings that have staying power and should be remembered. They broke new ground in the era of underground music from Iggy and the Stooges (debut album The Stooges, 1969,) the Velvet Underground (third album, 1969,) and Mott The Hoople (1969,) three albums (two debuts!,) released in 1969 and all eponymous, using the bands’ own names!!in the same year!!

That David Bowie would bring the Hoople and elements of the Velvet Underground together for the All The Young Dudes album three years later was elementary, it was the U.S. underground meeting the British underground, and it was powerful stuff. Powerful stuff with the self-titled Roxy Music album also emerging in 1972 – three years after the holy trio, and simultaneous with Mott the Hoople’s re-emergence and success with Dudes.

Listen to the power surge on Ian Hunter’s rendition of “Laugh at Me” from genius Sonny Bono.

On “Laugh at Me” Mott the Hoople sound like a cross between “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan with Al Kooper’s surging keyboard smashing into Procol Harum! *(Note: Island Record producers Guy Stevens and Jimmy Miller were pushing for “A Whiter Shade of Pale” to be on Island, Miller telling this writer that Chris Blackwell noted “this could be a spectacular hit or a huge flop.” (paraphrased!) Well it was the former and this incredible arrangement and performance of Sonny Bono by Mott deserved to be a smash around the world. Pure rock! Mayhem and majesty.

One of my first reviews for AllMusic.com in 2000 was for the compilation Rock and Roll Queen. Well the computer ate it and a great writer, Dave Thompson, got the honors. Read his review here: https://www.allmusic.com/album/rock-roll-queen-mw0000313991
What I’m doing now is my idea for what could have been the “best of” the Island years for Mott, and there’s so much great music to choose from.

Take Mad Shadows and a superb vocal on a superb ballad, “I Can Feel.” Folk meets gospel, not what one would expect from Mott the Hoople, but that’s exactly what one should expect. The unexpected. Guy Stevens read the book Mott the Hoople and named the band after it. Michael Leigh’s The Velvet Underground S&M non-classic became a classic because a rock band named themselves after it. That parallels continue to perpetuate the evolving myth of this very precious time in rock and roll, a period we will not see again unless space aliens/dimensional travelers or supercomputers give birth to the replication of these miraculous rock moments.

“Waterlow” from 1971’s Wildlife sounds like a classic Andrew Loog Oldham production (it’s not!) and is just stunningly beautiful.

Brain Capers, the fourth album, is a masterpiece. A rock and roll classic that demands more servings on classic rock radio. When Ian Hunter and the Rant bands go into Mott material with Ariel Bender (Luther Grosvenor) and Morgan Fisher it puts an emphasis on how masterful this music was, and still is, and its influence on David Bowie and so many others.

So, in the success of Columbia Records All the Young Dudes album, here’s what Atlantic released as a “best of” :
1. “Rock and Roll Queen” (Mick Ralphs) – 5:06
• From Mott the Hoople’s first album Mott the Hoople (1969 UK, 1970 North America).
2. “The Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception” (Ian Hunter, Guy Stevens) – 0:26
• Edited version, from Mott the Hoople’s fourth album Brain Capers (1971 UK, 1972 North America).
3. “You Really Got Me” (Ray Davies) – 2:53
• From Mott the Hoople. Instrumental.
4. “Thunderbuck Ram” (Mick Ralphs) – 4:48
• From Mott the Hoople’s second album Mad Shadows (1970). Vocals by Mick Ralphs.
5. “Walkin’ With a Mountain” (Ian Hunter) – 3:53
• From Mad Shadows.
6. “Death May Be Your Santa Claus” (Ian Hunter, Verden Allen) – 4:54
• From Brain Capers.
7. “Midnight Lady” (Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs) – 3:28
• Non-LP single recorded during the Brain Capers sessions, and released in 1972.
8. “Keep A Knockin'” (Richard Penniman) – 10:06

Here is Joe Vig’s idea for Rock and Roll Queen

1)Rock and roll Queen
2)The Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception
4)You Really Got Me
5)I Can Feel
6)Thunderbuck Ram
7)Walkin’ With a Mountain
9Lay Down (Melanie)
10)Death May Be Your Santa Claus
11)Darkness Darkness
12)Sweet Angeline
13)The Moon Upstairs
14)Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception (Reprise)
—oh – what the heck, make it a double album and add “Midnight Lady,” “Keep A Knockin’” and maybe a couple of extra live tracks.

All things being equal, with hindsight being 20/20, and lots of other clichés, the music of Mott the Hoople is no cliché. And here’s my re-write of the Rock and Roll Queen album that a computer (WebTV, actually) ate 19 years ago. Now go see Mott the Hoople on April 9th at the Orpheum Theater in Boston.

And dare I say that Paul McCartney’s Wild Life came out in 1971 when Mott the Hoople’s Wildlife came out…

Would love to hear Ian Hunter sing this one: Paul McCartney – Wild Life

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.