So the legend goes, Mott the Hoople were about to break up after four albums and not much to show for them. Then, famous fan David Bowie gave them one of his very best songs, "All the Young Dudes," and they suddenly achieved the success that had previously eluded them. They followed up All the Young Dudes (the album) with one simply titled Mott. Unlike the previous album, this new one contained all original material and established Ian Hunter as one of rock's greatest songwriters. It's also one of the all-time great albums about Rock & Roll. Hunter contrasts the joy and excitement of listening to and playing music with the weariness of life on the road. Rock & Roll may be a losing game, but if you get your kicks from guitar licks it's all worth it.
"All the Way From Memphis" is as great an opener as an album could have - great lyrics, awesome piano and guitar interplay, and guest sax from Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. "Whizz Kid" is another super catchy rocker. "Honaloochie Boogie" may be the album's shortest track but it's also the most joyous, one of the hidden gems of the Mott catalog. The band flexes their old school rock muscle on "Violence" and "Driving Sister." Though their association with Bowie brought them over to the growing glam rock scene, they remained rough and tumble street rockers at heart. "I'm a Cadillac/El Camino Dolo Roso" is the obligatory showcase for guitarist Mick Ralphs, who would soon leave the band, and the glam scene, for the straight up rock of Bad Company.
As great as the rockin' tunes are, the album's true heart and soul lies in the slower numbers. "Hymn for the Dudes" is a tribute to the fans, reminding them "You are not alone." The centerpiece is, of course, "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople." Here is where everything comes together, Hunter with his heart on his sleeve, confessing he feels he let his fans down yet still soldiering on to the next gig because that's all he knows how to do and wouldn't want it any other way. He also memorably name checks the rest of the band; "Buffin lost his childlike dreams and Mick lost his guitar/And Verden grew a line or two and Overend's just a rock & roll star." The album closes with the heartbreaking "I Wish I Was Your Mother," another of Hunter's classic tunes. The current CD edition adds a handful of bonus tracks including the B-side "Rose" which is as good as anything on the album itself.
Mott only had one more album in them after Mott, appropriately called The Hoople. Ian Hunter went on to a moderately successful solo career and served as an inspiration to all sorts of rockers, punks, power poppers, metalheads and more. The pinnacle of his career and that of his band continues to be Mott. If you love rock & roll, you'll love this album.
- Adam Reshotko