Mott the Hoople Live
Mott the Hoople
Released: November 1974
Chart Peak: #23
Weeks Charted: 13
Mott the Hoople are nowhere near as dumb as their name -- despite Ian Hunter's occasionally heavy-handed stabs at Dylanesque stardom, the band has maintained enough good sense to realize that its meal ticket is hard-assed, gut-bucket rock & roll. In light of this realization Mott's current stage presentation is lean on the introspective ballads Hunter has favored of late and heavy on the earlier hard-rock collaborations of Hunter and Mick Ralphs -- tunes that both attracted the band's early cult following and cemented its mass acceptance with All the Young Dudes and Mott.
Much of the reason for this belongs to the now departed Ariel Bender who, while not nearly as classy a guitarist as his predecessor Ralphs, is nonetheless in possession of a style that succeeds by sheer overkill. Throughout the record his guitar playing is obnoxiously heavy-handed and frequently devoid of any identifiable traces of sensitivity, yet it's a sheer joy to hear as it propels, prods and challenges the rest of the band.
"Violence" is the final installment of the medley and in a sense explanes what thsi album's version of Mott the Hoople is about. When they avoid their leader's excess they are fuly capable of nailing their listeners too the wall as forcefully as did the early Kinks whom Mott so often quotes.
- Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone, 2/27/75.
One side of this was recorded at the Uris Theatre in New York ("the first rock act to appear ON BROADWAY," they boast, as if the young cynics likely to buy their records are impressed by such antiquities... which they may be, for all I know), and the other side was recorded at the Odeon Theatre in London. Each set has its own sleeve notes, the London ones assuring us the band almost got into a brawl with stage bureaucrats before that one was over. That sort of thing is important to Mott's image, lest anyone forget what Ben Edmonds calls their "blue collar sensibilities" in his half of the notes. Musically, as I see it, the band never pretended to originate much -- you can hear "influences" and other people's clichés careening all over the place -- but there are subtle differences between Mott's attitude and the attitude of contrived decadence the middle class foisted off on us. This album is better at lighting up those differences that it is anything else; the song selection so-so, and not really capable of being controlled in this setting where there are obligations to include such numbers as "All the Young Dudes" (which, by the way, they still put some spark into; maybe having blue collar sensibilities means you don't get tired of something that works), and the London side slips into one of those deadly rock-and-roll medleys that, in charity to suffering humanity, shouldn't be recorded. There's lots of raunch throughout, though, and the lads to try to overcome the (American) audience's boogie-withdrawal symptoms and get some subtlety into the slow one, "Rest in Peace." But it's not the easiest place for subtlety to make a go of it, and consequently the album is missing a certain richness that does show in Mott's best studio work.
- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 4/75.
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