Friday, March 02, 2007

What would life be like if it never changed? Installment 6

More thoughts on my Top Ten Life-Changing Albums. Thanks to Eek for beginning the thread that led me to this list.

(Note: Italics indicate my initial response to Eek's challenge; the rest constitutes my further thoughts on the subject).

6. Mott, Mott The Hoople. Kicks off with "All the Way From Memphis," which features one of the greatest honking sax solos of all time, courtesy of Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. The world-weary "being a rock star is not what you think" attitude is sobering, reflective and refreshing.

Mott The Hoople, to my way of thinking, forged the perfect blueprint for a rock and roll band: burn fiercely and briefly before burning out. They stumbled around in obscurity for years before making it big, but once they got their break it was almost immediately over.

Which is sad, naturally, for who knows how much more great music they might have made. On the other hand they mercifully spared their fans a never-ending series of farewell tours. In fact, this quintessential glam rock band has never once regrouped, much to the consternation of fans and more successful artists who cite Mott The Hoople as a major influence including Queen, Roxy Music and The Clash.

Mott (1973) was the band's high point, a vaguely autobiographical rendering of the pitfalls and misconceptions of the fame they struggled to achieve. Lead vocalist/chief songwriter Ian Hunter borrowed equally from Bob Dylan and Little Richard to produce an album of frequently raucous melancholy. If the album gets a little too ruminative, it's well-earned introspection to those who know the band's backstory.

The shades, feather boas, platform boots, Maltese cross-shaped guitar - Mott The Hoople never took any of it seriously. Indeed, Hunter's excellent book, Diary of a Rock & Roll Star, reveals how hard these musicians worked at keeping up the illusion of stardom while simultaneously reaping little actual reward, monetary or otherwise.

It's all documented on Mott (practically the LP version of Hunter's book): songs about groupies ("Whizz Kid"), instruments lost in transit (the aforementioned "All the Way From Memphis"), staggering to the end of a tour and disbanding out of sheer despair ("Ballad of Mott The Hoople"). None of it sounds terribly glamorous the way it is told, ironically, and yet no band could make irony sound so glamorous.

Labels: ,


Blogger Dott Comments said...

"All The Young Dudes" man. Takes me right back.

4:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home