The Ballad of Mott the Hoople and Ian Hunter - Album by Album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by onlyconnect, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. What box did you get?
     
  2. slipkid

    slipkid Senior Member

    Thx for that, always wondered what the cover was. Always looked like some kind reverse-image of an x-ray of a baboon's head to me! Although I do not actually even know what a "fire grate" is :o
     
  3. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    A barred frame generally used in a fireplace for burning stuff. Usually black iron. Could be similar to a fire basket, except that a grate might be a flatter structure, or could be iron grating in front of a fire basket.

    Tim
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
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  4. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    You are probably all wondering where to find the best mix of the rather neglected track Thunderbuck Ram :)

    My vote goes to the version on Bumpers. A "loud organ" mix also appears on the comp Two Miles from Heaven, but I'm not sure if it is identical; timing is given as 4.40 rather than 4.50, and it sounds rather thin compared to the Bumpers one (could be the mastering).

    The track also appears on the CD comp Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal: An Island Anthology - I don't have this, but by rights it should be the Bumpers one so worth seeking out.

    Tim
     
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  5. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    A friend of mine believes that the Bumpers version (superior!) is the early mix when Guy was not involved. Yes, the strangely strange cd contains the Bumpers mix.

    If you really want to hear Ian baring his soul over the separation, seek out The Debt, a b side. It's a quiet song, but really heartbreaking to hear. "I get stoned every day, my best friend went away"
     
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  6. I could be wrong but IIRC Ian mentioned in "Diary of a Rock and Roll Star" that Joe Walsh did a cover version of "Thunderbuck Ram". Also I seem to recall reading in an interview (possibly in an article in Trouser Press), that Ian says the album was plagued by a squeaky bass pedal on Buff's drums. I've never heard it myself. Outstanding tracks for me are "No Wheels To Ride" and "Walking With A Mountain." Oops, Mott The Hoople LP/CD: "Mad Shadows" » says the squeaky bass pedal was on "I Can Feel". But like I said, I've never heard it. Probably because I've got the original vinyl version and not a remastered CD. (Or my hearing is worse than I thought.)
     
  7. lennonfan1

    lennonfan1 Senior Member

    Location:
    baltimore maryland
    Mad Shadows is a very dark record indeed. I don't really like the recording, the US press sounds muddy and don't know about the Island UK.
    I love the inner gatefold picture. It hangs in my attic. Surreal and seemingly impossible, it still offers hope.
     
  8. slipkid

    slipkid Senior Member


    Sorry, but I must have missed it earlier in the thread. What is "Bumpers"??
     
  9. strummer101

    strummer101 The insane on occasion aren't without their charms

    Location:
    Lakewood OH
    Mad Shadows is an uptick from the debut, but they still hadn't hit their stride yet.
    A good record with some really fine songs. I absolutely love "I Can Feel".
     
  10. eelkiller

    eelkiller One of the great unwashed

    It was a Island records double album sampler. The info is here.

    Bumpers (album) - Wikipedia »
     
  11. slipkid

    slipkid Senior Member

    Danke. What an odd collection (all Island Records bands though I guess). Free, King Crimson, Traffic, Tull, Mott, Jimmy Cliff, etc all on the same record.
     
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  12. eelkiller

    eelkiller One of the great unwashed

    If they did that on CD I would buy it, I regret not getting the Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal set that Tim mentioned above.
     
  13. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    Just for completeness ... just got hold of a copy of Two Miles from Heaven on CD. The version of Thunderbuck Ram included is indeed a remix, made especially for the compilation. I have the LP but the CD comes with sleeve notes that I had not seen before. The writer Dale Griffin (?) refers to the missing organ and says "we attempted to correct that with this mix as much as we could".

    I can't fully make sense of the notes though. It says the mix is new, implying access to the multis, but that "I believe that one of the drum mics was out of phase on that recording, making the kit sound really tinny". Adding, "no attempt was spared to beef up the drums but there's a limit to the amount of sound reshaping that can be effected on stereo master tapes without making other elements in the aural jigsaw suffer."

    So did they use the multis for the mix, or tinker with the stereo mix?

    It's also odd that the mix on Two Miles from Heaven is tinnier than the mix on Mad Shadows, suggesting that maybe the problem was not with the drum mics but with the particular tapes used on Two Miles from Heaven?

    Bumpers mix for the win :)

    Tim
     
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  14. Braincapers

    Braincapers Forum Resident

    Dale Griffin, better known as Buffin, was the drummer of Mott. Dale sadly passed away recently.
     
  15. elborak

    elborak Forum Resident

    Mad Shadows is a nice step up from the first album. S
    He was also the de facto Mott archivist. The work he did, both in assembling and documenting for All The Young Dudes: The Anthology was nothing short of amazing. One of the absolute best archival releases ever, for any band.
     
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  16. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    Wildlife

    ILPS 9144 released March 1971.

    Chart position: UK 44, USA 207

    [​IMG]

    Let’s set the scene for Mott the Hoople towards the end of 1970. The band’s gigs were going down a storm, but record sales not so much. Relations with producer Guy Stevens were also strained, to say the least. Stevens apparently tried to remove organist Verden Allen from the band, after Allen broke a copy of Mad Shadows in disgust at the mixing out of his work on Thunderbuck Ram. The rest of the band took Allen’s side and decided they needed a new producer.

    In the meantime, Mott recorded a gig at the Fairfield Halls Croydon in September 1970, which was meant to be a live album. The gig was somewhat chaotic. “I remember Jim Capaldi getting smashed over the head with a maraca,” recalls Allen. The recording was affected, with wires going adrift and some tracks interrupted, and Stevens decided it was not usable.

    It’s a shame, because if Mott had released Live at Croydon it might have done very well, on the back of the band’s live popularity, since it captures the energy of the performances. The tapes were not that bad, and the album was released in 2007 by Angel Air; it is an essential listen if you have any interest in this period for the band. “This group is about to wreck your mind”, says the announcer, before the band goes into a blistering version of Neil Young’s Ohio.

    In November, having mostly fallen out with Stevens, the band started recording its third studio album instead. The album sleeve says, “produced by Mott the Hoople,” though the sleeve also states that Wrong side of the River was "produced by Guy Stevens," and that Lay Down and the closing live track were "produced by Guy Stevens and Mott the Hoople."

    Mick Ralphs had a strong influence on the sound, and in contrast to the live shows, the band decided to go for a lighter, more melodic sound, influenced by country as well as rock.

    [​IMG]

    Whisky Woman continues the tradition of opening with a Mick Ralphs number, but is not as strong as Thunderbuck Ram on the previous release. The title comes from the Whiskey-a-Go-Go club in Los Angeles, according to the band’s biographer Campbell Devine. Spelt “Whisky” on the original album sleeve but possibly Whiskey Woman is correct.

    Angel of Eighth Avenue is an Ian Hunter ballad about a girl he met in New York.

    Wrong Side of the River comes from Mick Ralphs and sounds almost like a CSNY number, with his high-pitched voice taking off Neil Young in an echo of Hunter’s borrowing from Bob Dylan. Good song though.

    Waterlow is the second Hunter ballad and more powerful than the first, probably about his divorce from his first wife Diane. Waterlow Park is a place in North London where he used to take his children. “Blue broken tears hide away the years – misty highway seems colder today.”

    Lay Down is a cover of a song by Melanie (Safka) from her 1970 album Candles in the Rain. The song is about her experience performing at Woodstock “we all sang the songs of peace”. Not the Strawbs song; yet is it not so far from the Strawbs in feel. Mott doing folk rock, but none the worse for it.

    It must be love written and sung by Ralphs is the most obviously country-inspired song, kicking off with twangy guitar. It’s done nicely but you can’t help feeling that is the wrong direction for the band. The “love love love” chorus sounds almost like the Beatles.

    Hunter’s third ballad is Original Mixed-Up Kid, and it’s another good one. It’s about a young man looking for direction in life, “sleeps with the ladies all night, home in the morning light, to nothing”. Possibly in part autobiographical, in part about some of the fans and people Mott encountered on the road. “Probably one of the best songs I ever wrote,” says Hunter, and while I don’t agree, it is pretty good.

    Next up is another Ralphs track, Home is where I want to be. Literally true, apparently, as the band was touring incessantly and a bit of time at home must have seemed very attractive. Some nice organ twiddles from Allen.

    Now, that Croydon live album was not entirely forgotten, because the final track on Wildlife comes from that recording. Keep a Knockin’, by Little Richard, is a cracker. Stretching over nearly 10 minutes, it captures the band’s live sound very well, full of energy, and with Hunter urging on the audience during the track’s extended jam. “Listen, contrary to what various people say, this is the best possible form of music there ever was,” he says. “Just this,” adding, “it’s all a load of b*******t.” The jam continues with excerpts from Roy Orbison’s Mean Woman Blues, Whole lot of Shakin' by D C Williams, and Jerry Lee Lewis’s Tell me what I’d say.

    Well, if rock is the “best possible form of music,” why was the band messing about with country? That perhaps is what the fans asked themselves, and although the band felt they had delivered an album with a bit of everything, it was not particularly well received. A shame as there isn’t a bad track on it.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

    Location:
    Undisclosed
    My favorites here are Whisky Woman and Original Mixed-Up Kid. I was a little disappointed with this one as it was much more low key than the previous albums.
     
  18. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City south of Detroit

    Location:
    Fonthill, Ontario
    I forgot I had that one :cheers:
     
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  19. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    I agree with Ian about Original Mixed up Kid.

    Even though the band itself refers to their 3rd album as 'Mild Life' it shows how they were comfortably developing, with the confidence to release quieter and more subtle (and often moving) material. There's quite a stylistic chasm between the roaring stuff on their first two albums, and "Waterlow". It's a consistently engaging record, except for - and whose idea was this? - the closing "Keep A Knockin', which belonged on the live album they should have released next.
     
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  20. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    Reasons? I do like the song, but I like some others of his even better (don't ask for a list!).

    Tim
     
  21. eelkiller

    eelkiller One of the great unwashed

    I really like the version of Lay Down :hide:, not the type of song they were known for but it works IMO.
     
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  22. PhilBorder

    PhilBorder Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sheboygan, WI
    No reason to hide. "Lay Down "is great and suits them. Though thankfully they didn't do a different Melanie song like 'Brand New Key"
     
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  23. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet

    Location:
    The ATX
    Wildlife is pretty strong provided you like Ralphs' vocals (which I generally do). "Wrong Side Of The River" is probably my favorite Ralphs contribution to the band. Hunter is finally starting to develop into the songwriter he would become. All his ballads here are quite good--hard to pick a favorite among them. And the live "Keep A Knockin" is a gloriously incongruous barn burner. The only low point to me is "It Must Be Love" which is just too sappy.
     
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  24. onlyconnect

    onlyconnect The prose and the passion Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winchester, UK
    I feel we could do with some contemporary reviews. Anyone got any they could post?

    Tim
     
  25. Analogmoon

    Analogmoon All the Way Back in the Seventies

    Thanks for the thread. This has got me to break out the Mott The Hoople cds today. I think the first thing I had on cd of them was Ballad on Mott: A Retrospective (1993).

    On - I am starting with Wildlife. I love that song Wrong Side of The River.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
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