The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople

Sleeve and track listing

Start Productions STADVD002 (5 stars!)

  • 100-minute documentary
  • Unseen footage from the 2009 Hammersmith reunion
  • Leee Childers and Ian Hunter talk about getting to Memphis in 1972 and the Gracelands visit
  • Kris Needs talks about seeing Mott (and Bowie) at Aylesbury
  • Mick Jones (of The Clash) talks about working with Guy Stevens
  • Verden Allen visits a couple of Mott's old haunts in London
  • Ariel Bender, Morgan Fisher and Buffin talk about their run-in with Led Zeppelin
  • Phil and Ritchie (Mott's roadies) look through their Mott photo album

16:9 NTSC DVD (region-free)

Review

After the disappointment of the Under Review DVD it was soon announced that there would be a proper DVD made, this time with the full cooperation of the band. Three years in the making, and one full year after it was premiered at the London Film Festival (October 2010), it has finally been released in all its glory.

I can honestly say this DVD doesn't disappoint. The main feature is some 100 minutes long, telling the story from start to finish not by celebrity talking heads but by those who were there - the band members themselves. And by 'start' I mean bands like Shakedown Sound, Doc Thomas Group, the Hereford bands that preceeded MTH. Interspersed with this there is plenty of music and archive footage, much of it never seen before.

It is impossible to list highlights - it is all good - but some of the footage Start Productions have uncovered is incredible. The Tower Theatre in 1972, for example or Philadelphia in 1974 - who knew this stuff existed? Or footage of (1971 single) Downtown... The song Balld of Mott The Hoople includes the line "You know all the tales we tell, you know the band so well..." and yet the tales that are told here sound fresh and revealing, as if told for the first time. This is a DVD that will reward repeated viewing, with new insights being gained each time.

Then there's the bonus footage - all of it good. No throw-away stuff here, it's almost as essential as the main feature. There's footage of the final reunion show at Hammersmith in October 2009 (sadly only three tracks), with Ian and Verden talking about how the shows came about. Leee Childers and Ian Hunter talk about the December 1972 show in Memphis and the "raid" on Elvis Presley's Gracelands home. Morgan Fisher, Artiel Bender and Buffin talk about their run-in with Led Zeppelin in May 1974. And more...

It's a shame the live footage (from the 1970's) couldn't have been presented in a more complete form, but I guess licensing restrictions/costs mean that isn't possible. Bassist Overend Watts didn't take part, but after five minutes you don't really notice his absence. On a more technical note the main feature could have had a few chapter points inserted - if one's viewing is interrupted (eg the kids want the DVD player) then resuming will involve extensive use of the fast-forward key. But these are very minor niggles.

When this documentary was premiered in 2010 it received a standing ovation. Watching this it's not hard to see why. Fabulous, just fabulous... If you're a casual fan and want to know what all the fuss is about then watch this and learn. Mott The Hoople were one of the (if not the) greatest live bands of all time. This DVD goes a long way towards confirming that.

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