Mott the Hoople – Mott (1973)

It is a curious thing about certain pop groups that, if you were a member of the exclusive club which followed them when they were à la mode, you can brook no criticism of them later in life. I think this is particularly true of bands that cultivate arty eccentricity. If, however, you didn’t belong to the cult, these same idols can seem shrill and contrived. Even with all the boxes ticked, some groups, I can’t think of any offhand, simply come up short. Oh, they may have flourished for a time, capturing the zeitgeist (or at least some subculture), perhaps feeding on the crumbs of greater talents. Maybe even there was even a genuine connection with the true believers, the ones at the gigs, the ones who followed the band around, who subscribed to (or wrote for) the fan club. If there’s a ringing choir still in thrall to their adolescent fanaticism and loudly championing them in grown-up rock magazines, the listener coming to these kinds of records late will find them particularly disappointing. Ultimately, apart from maybe a song or two, they just doesn’t translate beyond the faithful and, with the passing of a few years, their records are revealed as a hollow echo of themselves.

I’d be interested to know if Thrifty Vinyl readers can think of any examples of this phenomenon.

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Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm  Comments (8)  

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  1. it’s all a matter of opinion, but i think lou reed certainly falls into this category… and perhaps not by coincidence also got a leg-up from a certain mr bowie when his career appeared to be going down the crapper. as for mott, i’ve certainly never understood the appeal of ian hunter – the guy couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and (unlike his benefactor) he’s no oil painting either… and yet despite such handicaps he is still held as a deity in some quarters!

    when you look at the efforts of such questionable talents in retrospect, it has to be taken into consideration that rock music was at its zenith and record companies were falling over themselves to sign anyone who was plodding around the popular live circuit at the time. and it is also my opinion that many punters (almost without exception young, white, male and middle class) bought a lot of that stuff (mott, uriah heep, nazareth, family, etc) not so much because they really liked it, but because of peer pressure. and so many a so-so musician in a mediocre band could sustain some kind of media-aided career for several years until vapourised by the coming of punk…

  2. …except in Mott’s case where one of the deifiers (if that’s a word), the Clash’s Mick Jones, was one of punk’s most visible movers. Really it’s his championing that moves me to give Hunter et al the benefit of the doubt. I can see Mott’s appeal–melodic hard rock combined with a Dylan sneer, it’s a good idea–and the ‘Mott’ Lp isn’t that bad, some of it’s really good, it’s just 3 stars when I wanted 5.

    With regards L. Reed, I rate the four original VU albums above almost all others, but can’t listen to any solo albums apart from “Berlin”, and even then, not too much.

    Even if the music doesn’t quite hold up, I would be wary of diminishing the motives of a given person, or group of people, for following a group or genre. A big part of the enjoyment of mass media consumation (e.g. commercially available recorded music) is the sense of shared community fostered.

  3. erm.. Paul McCartney comes to mind. Although inexplicably in my book his followers still seem to exceed the population of China so he probably doesn’t strictly fall into the category you’re looking for. Also, he really should really be banned from appearing live in the future – surely he must be at the stage now where his renditions of Beatles songs are starting to do serious damage to their reputation..

    • Agreed. I saw Macca a couple times (Flowers In the Dirt and Driving Rain tours) and was possilbly the only one in the halls to wish he’d stick exclusively to Wings/solo material.

      P.Asbo

  4. Agree on Lou Reed too, although I will always love “Berlin”.

  5. What about Street Hassle? Metal Machine Music? (just kidding)

    I’ve never understood the appeal of Mott either -they seemed to just be bricklayers trying to be rock stars….

  6. For me the appeal of Mott lies primarily in their earlier, more ‘underground’ work for Island Records. Maybe I’m just obsessive about early 70’s Brit Rock (yes), but albums like ‘Brain Capers’ and ‘Wild Life’ (my fave) sound amazing to me. I wasn’t part of the original Mott clique – not old enuff guv – but I still have a lot of time for them, even after Bowie Glammed ’em up. ‘Mott’ isn’t a favourite though, nor is the ‘Live’ LP, but ‘Dudes’ and ‘The Hoople’ are just great. Fine run of singles too.They also provided me with a joyous celebratory night when I saw them reunite at Hammersmith Apollo a couple of years back. Possibly Hunter is an acquired taste, but it is quite an addictive taste once acquired! I always thought the Stranglers fell into the category of ‘had to be there’, but I’ve come around to them in recent times. The Stone Roses DEFINITELY don’t stack up to the ‘legend’, although they’re not bad by any means. Hard to think of anyone who falls squarely into this category.

    • Welcome to TV. You seem to go against the critical orthodoxy quite a bit, eg Atom Heart and Island Mott, keep up the good work!


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