Mott the Hoople | Mott (Columbia/Legacy)

Thirty-three years on, the album sounds just as good as when critics first hailed its emergence on the glam scene. Hunter’s lyrical observations on the savage beast that is the music business and the utter absurdity of fame ring as true as ever.

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What do you say about Mott the Hoople that hasn’t already been said? Especially when what’s been said before includes such heralds as Rolling Stone’s claim that Mott was “The best album from the best band of the early Seventies.” Overstatement or not, from a distance of over three decades now, the 1973 album is consistently regarded as the high-water mark for the band. And now it’s regarded as ripe for reissue.
Along with Mott, Columbia/Legacy has rereleased two of the band’s other notable works: 1972’s All the Young Dudes, the David Bowie–produced album that helped resurrect Mott’s waning career, and a downloadable version of 1974’s less-acclaimed The Hoople, each with a smattering of bonus tracks.
The group had already achieved moderate success in England, but in 1972 the outlook for Mott was grim and breakup seemed imminent. Enter longtime fan David Bowie to donate his song “All the Young Dudes” and lend his hand as producer and the band was back on track with its most successful album to date. Who would’ve thought then that splitting with Bowie and self-producing their follow-up would actually yield a better record? Not many people, apparently, as vocalist/pianist Ian Hunter remembered: “We knew exactly what everyone was thinking—‘Oh, Bowie’s gone, it’s all over’—and that made us mad as hell. Out of the anger the writing came, the [Mott] album came, everything came.”
Thirty-three years on, the album sounds just as good as when critics first hailed its emergence on the glam scene. Hunter’s lyrical observations on the savage beast that is the music business and the utter absurdity of fame ring as true as ever. Even then, at the top of their game, the band seemed not only aware of the temporary nature of rock stardom, but able to mock it.
Judging from the four bonus tracks on Mott, though, it’s slim pickings in the group’s vault these days. “Rose,” a slow, piano-driven B-side, and a demo of “Nightmare” are less than impressive, and the new takes on two of the tracks already on the album, a demo of “Honaloochie Boogie” and a live cut of “Drivin’ Sister,” just aren’t that different than the originals.
Overall, the album’s still great, if perhaps a tad diluted by bonus fluff.

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