This page is inspired by the Buyer's Guide column in each month's issue of Classic Rock magazine. I hereby acknowledge Classic Rock for giving me the idea, but the work herein is entirely my own.
Mott The Hoople formed in 1969 when Hereford band The Silence signed to Island Records and were paired with Shropshire lad Ian Hunter. They soon became a must-see live band based on their explosive live shows, but couldn't translate their live drawing power into album sales. Faced with mountaing debts they split in 1972 following a disastrous gig in Zurich.
Bassist Overend Watts phoned David Bowie looking for a gig. Instead of contributing to their demise Bowie instead offered to help them first by gifting Suffragette City (refused - not good enough) and then All The Young Dudes (grabbed with both hands). Mott's commercial breakthrough (on both sides of the Atlantic) was not without cost, as first organist Phally quit in early 1973 (not enough of his songs were being used) and then (August 1973) guitarist Mick Ralphs left (to form Bad Company).
New members Ariel Bender (guitar) and Morgan Fisher (keyboards) helped propel Mott to new heights of success in '73 and '74 (especially in America) but a feeling crept in that despite the enormous morale boost he'd given them Bender was not right musically. The band considered splitting again when the Bowie cavalry arrived again this time in the shape of Mick Ronson. His skills as a guitarist and a musical arranger were beyond compare but problems arose during a European tour causing Ian Hunter to leave to persue a solo career.
Since then Mott's reputation grew and grew but there was always resistance in some quarters to a reunion. Either Mick Ralphs was too busy with Bad Company or more recently Overend Watts wanted nothing to do with the music business. Finally, some 35 years after disbanding, everyone was pretty much in agreement it being a case of "if we don't do it now, we never will". October 2009 saw the original lineup reunite for five sold-out nights at Hammersmith Apollo. Sadly, illness meant that drummer Dale Griffin could only take part in the encores - his place being taken by Martin Chambers (of The Pretenders). A second set of reunion concerts took place in November 2013.
Fans yearned, however, for Morgan Fisher and Ariel Bender to be included. Their patience was rewarded when the surviving members of the 1974 lineup (billed as "Class of 74") reunited for three European festivals in the summer of 2018. A USA and then UK tour followed in the Spring of 2019. With Dale Griffin and Overend Watts having passed away Ian, Ariel and Morgan were backed by the Rant Band, and the shows were very well received. Sadly, a further USA tour in October/November 2019 was cancelled after Ian was hit by a severe bout of tinnitus. And that, my friends, would seem to be that.
Mott The Hoople only released seven studio albums and one live album in their 70's heyday. This poses a problem when I need to find ten albums for this article. Happily we have been blessed with several archive and historical releases giving me more than enough albums to choose from without too much track duplication.
|Thunderbuck Ram||The "Bumpers" version, with Phally's organ (oo-er missus!) much higher in the mix.||Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal|
|The Moon Upstairs||Mott's two-fingered salute to Island: "We ain't bleeding you, we're feeding you - but you're too f***ing slow".||Brain Capers|
|All The Young Dudes||Mott's breakthrough hit, and the best song Bowie ever wrote.||All The Young Dudes|
|One Of The Boys||The b-side version is stronger than the album version.||The b-side to All The Young Dudes. Still unavailable on CD!|
|Honaloochie Boogie||Proof that Mott could have a hit single without Bowie.||Mott|
|All The Way From Memphis||Tony Blackburn hated it (he hated everything Mott did).||Mott|
|Roll Away The Stone||The single version (with Mick Ralphs on guitar) is better than the album version (which had Ariel Bender on guitar).||Greatest Hits|
|The Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll||The Hoople|
|Saturday Gigs||Greatest Hits|
|Rock 'n' Roll Queen||Guy Stevens said "we need a rocker", so Mick Ralphs went home and wrote this.||Mott The Hoople|
|Hymn For The Dudes||Mott|
|The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople||Mott's heartfelt letter to the fan in the front row. Mott connected with the fans in a way that few bands could manage.||Mott|
|Marionette||The most significant track on The Hoople. A highlight of the '74 live set as well.||The Hoople|
|Lounge Lizzard||Brimming with power and menace, better than the version on Ian's solo debut.||The Hoople (2006 reissue)|
|Born Late '58||The Hoople|
|Sweet Jane||All The Young Dudes|
|Ready For Love||Better than Bad Company's version.||All The Young Dudes|
|The Journey (alternate version)||Beautiful and atmospheric, it is at times hauntingly quiet and at others brutally powerful.||Brain Capers (remastered version)|