Friday, May 30, 2008

Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

I’ll admit that I discovered Mott when everyone else did – with their hit “All the Young Dudes”. My glam rock girlfriend at the time was a huge Bowie fan, so even if the cool FM radio stations weren’t playing this great tune, I would have found them anyway.

And damn, what a discovery! Yes, this record – which I love – is a lot smoother than their previous outings, but once I dug deeper into their history I became a fan for life!

The band never changed that much but due to Bowie’s influence and production they moved from a Dylan-esque r’n’r band to a glam band almost overnight. Sure, they may have changed their clothes (there are some amazing photos of the group at this time) and their sound became a bit slicker, but they were still obviously Mott.

They were never afraid of making other people’s songs their own – with previous covers of the likes of Sonny Bono and Melanie (not my wife!) – and this album opens with their take on Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane”. This pretty much becomes the essential version of the song, despite Lou’s many takes. Great guitar tones, a nice lead guitar bit added by Mick Ralphs and Ian Hunter’s amazing delivery. Simply superb!

“Momma’s Little Jewel” sound perfectly perverted, though I truly have no idea what it is about. It’s a terrific glam-rifff-rocker with an evil feel and that’s good enough for me! This transitions directly – via the sound of a needle being scratched across an album – to the hit title tune. Again, Bowie may have written this but Mott definitely made it their own and they own it now!

I think it’s pretty obvious that Hunter was listening to the Velvet Underground when he stats “Sucker” with the line “hey there, your friendly neighborhood sadist gonna take you for a ride”. But besides the lasciviousness, it’s a freakin’ great song!

I never really did know what Ian was singing about and with his Dylan influences we probably aren’t supposed to, but “Jerkin’ Crocus” comes off dirty as hell – “I know what you want, just a lick of my ice cream cone”! More excellent guitars, too – from Ian’s ringing rhythms to Mick’s soaring leads. The band really works together throughout the record – organist Verden Allen accentuates just the right places while drummer Buffin and bassist Overend Watts (such bitchin’ names!) keep everything moving at a rockin’ pace.

Ralph’s “One of the Boys” (which later mutated into “Can’t Get Enough” for Bad Company) opens with the sound of a dial phone, which gives it an interesting nostalgic feel. But, man, what a rocker! Super heavy guitars are layered on top of each other with a great melody and a catchy, sing-along chorus that was so simple and self-evident that no one could dispute it or argue with it. So good it’s scary! The song fades out and then a phone rings and it’s Ian singing in your ear! The song comes back full force with the chorus repeated over and over in glorious refrains while Ralphs wails away!

Verden gets his time in the spotlight (just before he was ousted from the band) with his head-banger, “Soft Ground”. Definitely organ-dominated, but heavy as hell and a damn cool song.

Ralphs is back with “Ready For Love”, another tune that Bad Company realized the potential of. This is a fine version with trade off vocals from Ralphs and Hunter. Ralphs was a helluva songwriter and a heluva guitar texturialist.

The record closes with Hunter’s “Sea Diver”, a Dylan-esque ballad. Ian is certainly a sincere singer but I still prefer his rockers to his ballads, overall.

But, this is a fantastic glam-rock masterpiece and a must buy for anyone who cares about 70’s rock!