Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ian Hunter and Mott- Beautiful losers never die

It's tough to be a classic rock fan and not have a soft spot for Mott the Hoople fan. It's not just because 1973's Mott gets (well deserved) 5-star reviews all over the place or that '72's "All the Young Dudes" is a long-time FM staple that also gets recycled for movie soundtracks. It also helps that despite "Dudes" has the Bowie connection (it's his tune after all and he produced it too). But alas, the group was never able to ride it through to a long and prosperous career, collapsing when singer/leader Ian Hunter left two years later (though the band tried to carry on without him). So they entered the pantheons of great 'should-have-beens' despite such great successes and promise.

In the CD age, there were a few good collections of Mott material but little of Hunter's solo years, which yielded some gems also. That is until now. Shout Factory's Old Records Never Die is a fine round-up of not just Mott material but also Hunter's career, including highlights like "Once Bitten Twice Shy," "Cleveland Rocks" (which you might know from the Drew Carey Show), "Just Another Night," the touching title track and my personal favorite, the campy, hilarious "Justice of the Peace." It even includes a cut from his recent, under-rated solo record Shrunken Heads (the sweet "Words (Big Mouth)" is a nice touch but where's the R.E.M. hyper-power-pop of "Brainwashed"?). As such, it makes a strong case for Hunter's own records as it does for Mott's, which is only fair since the guy was the heart and/or soul of the group (Bad Company's Mick Ralphs notwithstanding). It also rights a great injustice since there's been f-ck all in terms of decent Hunter compilations available.


Anonymous James said...

The fourth Mott the Hoople album, Brain Capers, is a lost gem (and, easily, my favorite album of theirs). Ironically, it didn't chart and lead the band to almost break up, before Bowie interceded.

Anyway, the record has smart, funny and moving songs and two of them are absolute classics ("Death May Be Your Santa Claus" and "The Journey"). If I were to do something very nerdy and rock-critic-y and compile a list of great overlooked hard rock albums of the 70's, Brain Capers would top it (though I should probably leave that kind of idea to Chuck Eddy...)

6:49 AM  
Blogger Karate Boogaloo said...

I got the email newsletter from Shout Factory yesterday and saw this. I'm not sure why but I found it odd. Mott was great & I love them, but they seem to be one of those bands that I never hear anyone talk about, never mind actually buy their albums. Glad to see it though.

7:55 AM  

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