Mott The Hoople
Pulling themselves together in the late '60s Mott The Hopple tried blending the Rolling Stones-type Rock with Bob Dylan's lyrics. The group rolled along with guitarist/vocalist Ian Hunter and guitarist Mick Ralphs driving things. They produced four albums ("Mott The Hopple," "Mad Shadows," Wild Life" and "Brain Capers") that illustrated their eclectic nature and won critical approval but no sales.
However, they attracted one fan, David Bowie. That proved beneficial. Bowie heard the group was on the verge of breaking up and offered them one of two songs, "Suffragette City" or "All The Young Dudes." They chose "Dudes" and made a hard turn toward glitter with Hunter firmly established as the leader. The Bowie produced "All The Young Dudes" album gave the group the push it needed. The next album "Mott" was their best work even though Ralphs left during recording to launch Bad Company. Ariel Bender, Ray Major and even Bowie's guitarist, Mick Ronson, were in and out.
The next two albums "The Hoople" and "Rock And Roll Queen" were also strong. But by the mid '70s Mott The Hopple was on the rocks again and there was no Bowie around to rescue them.
Fast foward. The Shout! Factory label issued "Old Records Never Die: The Mott The Hopple/Ian Hunter Anthology" in '08. A two CD, 32 song set, "Old Records Never Die" had a disc dedicated to Mott and the second to Hunter's three decade long solo career (from his '75 self-titled debut to '07's "Shrunken Heads").
This seemed a bit odd - for a couple reasons. It had been decades since anyone had expended any gray matter thinking about Mott The Hopple or the band's frontman. Of course, Classic Rock radio had just played "All The Young Dudes" for the millionth time - or so it seemed.
OK, there was more to Mott The Hopple than one hit but Hunter, on his own, didn't even manage that. He was a passable solo performer just not a star. And it wasn't for lack of material. Hunter's "One Bitten Twice Shy" briefly took Great White out of dank clubs and into the limelight. Even before that (in the late '70s), his "Ships" was covered by Barry Manilow. Though not one of the balladeer's #1s, it did do some damage, especially on the Adult Contemporary chart, and was actually a very sincere father-son relationship ballad. And The Presidents Of The United States Of America recorded Hunter's epic "Cleveland Rocks" for the intro to the Drew Carey Show - which was set in Cleveland. So combined, maybe all that added up to a hit. The compilation featured the original versions.
"Once Bitten Twice Shy" can also be found on "Ian Hunter" and the irresistible "Cleveland Rocks" appears on "You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic." But the story doesn't even end there.
Mott The Hoople's five original members reunited in '09 for two London concerts to commemorate the band's 40th anniversary. "Why are we doing it? I can't speak for the others, but I'm doing it just to see what it's like," wrote Hunter in an online post.
Mott The Hoople's career barely won the praise it deserved so a good way to discover this group is through "The Ballad of Mott: A Retrospective." Next up is Mott's commercial success "All The Young Dudes" and its follow up "Mott." Both blend the glitter and glam with some potent Rock. Of their pre-Bowie work. their debut "Mott The Hoople" stands as the best. "The Hoople" and "Rock and Roll Queen," both released in '74, are the group's last great efforts. After that, replacement players kept the name alive but not much more.