Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mott the Hoople - the Hoople

With the album title emphasizing that this is the follow up to the success of Mott, the band highlights this concept with “The Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll” – a mix of “All the Way to Memphis” and “Honaloochie Boogie”. Good stuff and a nice start to the renovated MTH. New guitarist Aerial Bender’s (formerly Luther Grosvenor from Spooky Tooth) first solo is a short, twisted, whammy-bar noise fest – cool stuff and quite different from Mick Ralphs.

“Marionette” starts as another Hunter keys-n-strings tune that changes often – heavy guitars, saxes, weird, chanting backing vocals – a very strange ride! The following, “Alice” is also a little disjointed. I’m not sure if Ian just got a little wackier with his songs or if the band just wasn’t jelling as it had in the past.

They try to get back to their old sound a bit with “Crash Street Kidds”, but as good as Bender is, he doesn’t have Ralphs’ massive guitar sound. “Born Late ‘58” is more successful and is quite a raver, in the “Drivin’ Sister”/”Jerkin’ Crocus” style. Good stuff!

Hunter dedicates another ballad to his wife in “Trudi’s Song” and unfortunately, “Pearl’n’Roy (England)” is fairly forgettable. I had forgotten just how many ballads were on this record and “Through the Looking Glass” is another one, this one with choirs and orchestration.

Luckily, the album closes on a high note with “Roll Away the Stone”, an energetic and fun tune with fine guitar licks, a sing-along chorus, nice backup vocals and even a sense of humor.

The loss of Mick Ralphs really devastated this band. They still had some good moments, but they lost all of their momentum and soon dissolved. A sad ending for a fabulous group.