I have long struggled to care about Mott the Hoople. From the first time I learned about David Bowie’s involvement with them to trying to take their record anniversaries seriously enough to discuss on my podcast, I have just never got them. When I did review Mott, the previous record, I didn’t like it. And whatever else of theirs I tried to listen to was similarly off-putting. On my first listen to this record, I had a similar problem. Then something happened.
The thing that stands out to me with The Hoople which didn’t with previous records is the quirk. Maybe I missed it before but, to me, there actually feels like there’s some weird personality here, whereas before it always felt like they were pretending there was some weird personality but, beneath the veneer, you were left with generic rock music wishing it was made by David Bowie. For whatever reason, Hunter’s songs are now finally resonating with me.
It could be the arrangements which can get quite bonkers, relatively speaking. There are more than a few songs on this record where things don’t unfold like you would expect glam rock to – it’s definitely closer to David Bowie in execution than the other records of theirs I’ve heard, where it more just felt like Hunter was trying to sing like Bowie but didn’t have his creativity or nerve.
This is still far from my favourite thing and it’s still way too close to sub David Bowie than a band this well-regarded should be, but for once I think I actually get why people like this band. It’s weird that it’s their final album which is the one that does it for me. What can you do?
All tracks written by Ian Hunter except as noted.
- “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll” – 3:26
- “Marionette” – 5:08
- “Alice” – 5:20
- “Crash Street Kidds” – 4:31
- “Born Late ’58” (Overend Watts) – 4:00
- “Trudi’s Song” – 4:26
- “Pearl ‘n’ Roy (England)” – 4:31
- “Through the Looking Glass” – 4:37
- “Roll Away the Stone” – 3:10
- Ian Hunter – vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
- Pete Overend Watts – bass guitar, vocals, lead vocals on “Born Late ’58”, rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar
- Dale “Buffin” Griffin – drums, vocals, percussion
- Ariel Bender – lead guitar, vocals, slide guitar
- Morgan Fisher – keyboards, synthesizer
- Howie Casey – tenor saxophone on 1 2 3 7
- Jock McPherson – baritone saxophone on 1 2 7, tenor saxophone on 1 2 7
- Mike Hurwitz – cello on 2
- Lynsey De Paul – backing vocals on 3 9
- Mick Ralphs – backing vocals on 7, rhythm guitar on 9
- Graham Preskett – violin on 8, conductor on 8, tubular bells on 8
- Sue Glover & Sunny Leslie – backing vocals on 1 8
- Barry St. John – backing vocals on 1 8
- Thunderthighs – backing vocals on 9