Tag Archives: Deep Purple

(1974 Albums) Mott the Hoople – The Hoople

1974 was quite the year for Mott the Hoople.

Flush from the band’s single success in 1972 with the Bowie-penned “All the Young Dudes“, Mott had already enjoyed follow-up hits with songs like “Honaloochie Boogie” and “All the Way from Memphis“.

(Not before Mott had turned down another offered song from Bowie though… a certain little ditty entitled “Drive-In Saturday“)

Late 1973 saw the band having to live up to a “glam” moniker that they were never really happy to embrace. They were always lumped in with the likes of Slade, T.Rex and the plethora of bubblegum glam bands who filled the charts in the early 70’s and this only served undermine the stronger songs the band put out. (If Mott were considered “glam” I’ve always questioned why Deep Purple were never tarred with the same brush?… big hair, satin trousers, slightly androgynous appearance etc)

Tensions in the group began to surface, various members leaving and joining well into 1974,  the most notable of which was when Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson replaced Ariel Bender.

Despite all this, and at the start of 1974, Mott issued what was (and is) for me their finest album… even if other fans disagree with me, often citing it as uneven and “too much Hunter, no Mick Ralphs”. (Ralphs had left the band following the release of the previous album, “Mott”, leaving Hunter as the prime songwriter)

The Hoople kicks off with a spoken word intro into “The Golden Age of Rock & Roll” a celebration to the band’s craft which goes out of its way to suggest Hunter was giving more than just a cursory nod to the style their famous benefactor had offered them with “All the Young Dudes”. Other than the gregarious boogie-woogie piano, the song structure with its brass elements and guitar riffs could most certainly have come from Bowie’s pen.

Mick Ralphs, later of Bad Company

Marionette” remains one of my very favourite non-single Mott songs. It’s an ambitious dig at rock & roll management and how they always try and manipulate artists to do what they want rather than what the artist wants to do themselves. Lyrically it’s admittedly a bit suspect, but the song itself thunders across your eardrums from the get-go, going off on several rhythmic (almost operatic) twists and turns on the way. The manic laughter halfway through never fails to slightly un-nerve me.

Those pair of adrenaline-infused numbers then morph into “Alice” a pretty standard ‘rock song’ about a New York hooker which is saved from obscurity ( at least for me) by the lyrically-wonderful chorus of
Alice you remind me of Manhattan,
the seedy and the snaz,
the shoe boys and the satin

The listener is quickly revived by “Crash Street Kidds” a fierce guitar-riff led rocker, albeit one with a silly and somewhat unnecessary ‘false ending’ after just a few minutes and the questionable ‘dalek-voice’ ending

Born Late ’58” is the only song on The Hoople not written by Ian Hunter. Pete ‘Overend’ Watts’ tale of escaping a one-night stand with an underage teen “jailbaiter” is infused with a guitar riff to die for, some fabulous boogie-woogie piano (a Mott trademark) and just rocks and rocks

Trudi’s Song” is Hunter’s soppy little tribute to his wife, replete with a Bowie-esque “woah-oh” opening and a song structure that somehow reminds you of many other ballads, not least of which is Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe“. It seems heartfelt enough though.

Pearl’n’Roy (England)” has apparently become something of  Mott “classic” over the years. Personally I’m a little at odds with this. It’s a good little rocker packed with good moments and I think it fits into The Hoople’s line-up of songs wonderfully, but if I were to hear it out of context I would consider it average.

For me, the worst song on the album is “Through the Looking Glass“. It feels like Hunter channeling Bowie again.. and failing miserably. It’s certainly not helped by its weak symphonic structure, electronic string section and Ian’s peculiar vocal phrasing.

Clutching victory from potential defeat however is the album’s closer, the utterly magnificent “Roll Away the Stone“. The album version is different from the single release which had already been a hit in 1973, Mick Ralphs guitar contribution having been replaced by Ariel Bender’s. Admittedly there’s not much to pick between the two, however trivia freaks may care to know that the vocal bridge on the album version (the “well I got my invite” lyric) is spoken by none other than waif-like 70’s folk-pop singer/songwriter Lynsey De Paul

So, The Hoople starts well, ends well and only has couple of dodgy tracks along the way. As I said I know many people prefer the previous year’s “Mott” album, but for me “The Hoople” triumphs.

The album went to #11 on the UK chart and #28 on the American chart.

A live Mott the Hoople album was also released in 1974. Ironically, its release coincided with the announcement that the band had broken up. Mick Ronson collaborated with Hunter on his follow-up solo projects and the pair continued to work together on and off right up until Ronson’s untimely death in 1993.

Here in 2009, and Ian Hunter already having celebrated his 70th birthday (yes, really), the band reformed – for the first time in all these years – to play three sold out “40th Anniversary” concerts at London’s Hammersmith  pre=”Hammersmith “>Odeon (I refuse to call it the “HMV Hammersmith Apollo” unless I can do so derogatively).

I will settle for having seen the band play at the Southampton Guildhall in 1974. As if to horrify myself however – and my readers – I recall that I was actually more impressed with the support band Sailor than I was with Mott and… left the gig early. (Yes, I may need shooting)

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December 25th 1973

“Crismis Day – Got a guitar”

Evil child that I was, I always hunted for – and invariably found – my wrapped Crismis Christmas presents many weeks before Santa’s big day. Of course, as a result of them being wrapped I was not always 100% sure of the gifts inside but the size and shape of the packages was usually a giveaway.

However, I can honestly say that my parents genuinely surprised me with this guitar. (I later found out Dad had hidden it by hanging it inside one of his work suits, itself inside a suit hanging bag, at the back of their wardrobe)

This guitar was a half-sized model which – rather than learning to properly play – I instead posed with in front of whichever mirror I could find. Yes, I would adopt clichéd poses with it. Yes I would pretend I was a rock star and mime along with hits on it. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise.

Dad – with some considerable hope – also bought me Bert Weedon’s Play in a Day tutorial book in the vain hope that I would actually read it and learn how to properly bang out tunes on the guitar.

Instead I merely limited myself to bashing out the opening chords to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” – or *ahem* variations thereof – imagining myself to be a kind of folksier Richie Blackmore. I also taught myself the irritatingly repetitive riff to Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love” as well as “the Status Quo riff”

Not whole songs I hasten to add, just the riffs. I could amuse myself for hours by doing this, as well as wildly improvising, creating noises with the strings (by rubbing bottles, pens and any other implements to hand over them) and messing with the tuning knobs. I was practising to be an avant garde savant.

As time progressed it was inevitable that the guitar would fall into less and less use. I remember that when I left home and moved into my first flat the guitar had become more of a repository for record label promo stickers than anything I picked up and played. I think the thing got damaged during – and was consequently thrown away – my next house move.

Years and years later – in the early 90’s – a girlfriend of mine decided that I needed a guitar so likewise bought me one as a Christmas gift. Again it was a nice surprise. This time the bonus was a complete set of guitar lessons with a local teacher. I opened the guitar bag and hefted this – now full sized – instrument out, popped on the strap, stood up and…..immediately played “Smoke on the Water”. This wasn’t going to end well.

It didn’t. The girlfriend & I broke up before I had the first lesson, and as she was paying for them I didn’t feel it prudent to push the point during our break-up negotiations.

Thus, the world can squarely blame her for England not having a “second Nick Drake” to fawn over.

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September 21st 1973

“Moved into spare room”

Wow…. I must have argued with myself and got thrown out?

Actually, I this was part of my necessary ‘teenage remodeling’ years. It is CERTAINLY something that my Dad remembers with a little bit of horror.

He reminded himself of it – and then me – when, last year, I told him I had finally finished painting “the bloody dining room” here at our house in Newport.

The room took me ten times longer than I felt it should have done for the simple reason that my wife & I chose a deep red paint colour for the walls. Anyone who has done painting will know that dark colours never quite look right after just a couple of coats, and thus require several more to give them the depth and strength they deserve.

Thus, my dining room became “that bloody dining room”, just as – I’m sure – my bedroom became “that bloody bedroom” for him in 1973.

The reason being that I chose…. wait for it… a deep purple for two of the walls.

He should have been happy I wasn’t into Black Sabbath!

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August 6th 1973 (Pt II)

“Rained all day – went up Trev’s, borrowed … In Rock….”

[…cont]

Deep Purple’s “In Rock” album, was notable at the time because it was the first album they released where every track was written by members of the band. Gone then are the cheesy Neil Diamond covers, replaced by ‘proper’ tunes.

But…

Sure, Ian Gillan still screams for all his worth, Blackmore’s guitar screeches accordingly and Jon Lord’s keyboard work nicely fills all the ‘speaker centre’ gaps, but, to me, this has always felt like an uneven collection of songs.

I’ll be honest and say I have rarely made it through the whole of side 2, even though “Flight of the Rat” (mini drum solo from Ian Paice), “Into the Fire” (lovely fuzzy Hammond), “Living Wreck” (nice riff, always seemed to have one note missing to me) and “Hard Lovin’ Man” are OK songs. Sadly, none of them gripped me (or anyone else?) as much as the cuts on Side 1.

Speed King” is nothing short of an iconic Deep Purple song. It’s one of the few cuts that feels (to me, anyway) to encapsulate the band properly, each instrument – including Gillan’s (oft-out-of-tune) vocals –  alternately vying for your attention. The energy is almost relentless from start to finish. Check out the full version if you get a chance, but meanwhile here’s a You Tube video of the band performing it – somewhat cheesily – in a Granada TV studio in 1970. Not a patch on the studio version, but it still shows that vibrancy and completeness the band could possess from time to time.

Loon Pants

Bloodsucker” is Ian Gillan’s moment in the spotlight. He evidently went into the studio that morning wearing the tightest loon pants he could find in his wardrobe. No one screams falsetto like Gillan when he’s got those pants one!

Then, to close down Side 1, there is the live favourite “Child in Time“, a personal little guilty pleasure from that day to this, the perfect symmetry between the band member’s playing still managing to occasionally send the odd shiver up this elderly spine of mine. There is that weird break at about the 3:30 mark – which almost threatens to undermine the song – but they pick it up perfectly thereafter, the rhythm and pace (paice?) increasing nicely to the finale.

I need to say (repeat? – have I said this before?) that I never saw Deep Purple play live in concert. However, unlike not seeing the Moon-era Who for instance, I have no musical regrets in this regard. They’ve never appealed to me as a live act. For all my protestations that suggest the contrary, Ian Gillan’s vocals – especially that screaming he did – never sat entirely comfortably with me. They were just “one of the bands” who were “everywhere” at the time, and I suppose any teenager worth his salt felt somewhat obliged to listen to and appreciate their work somehow. Indeed, as these diaries have progressed I have found it MOST peculiar – and somewhat disconcerting – to discover Deep Purple’s name mentioned again and again. (Needless to say it has greatly amused a few of the friends I grew up with)

Tomorrow… Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells… serendipity ensues….

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August 6th 1973 (Pt I)

“Rained all day – went up Trev’s, borrowed Tubular, In Rock, Birds of fire + Tonto’s”

I have written about Tonto’s Expanding Headband’s “Zero Time”  before.

Two out of the other three albums I borrowed on this day in 1973 require talking about at some length. So much so in fact that I plan to make this diary entry a “three parter”, doubtless a debatable practise for some readers… to whom I ap0logise in advance.

The one that – at least in my humble opinion – needs, by far, the smallest amount of time devoted to it is the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Birds of Fire”

Don’t get me wrong, I admire John McLaughlin and everything – especially the time he spent with the MIGHTY Miles Davis – and I admit he is an accomplished virtuoso guitarist. However, the material he did under the “Mahavishnu Orchestra” moniker was – for the best part – dull pretentious dreary rubbish. The pedigree is massive – fellow jazz greats Bily Cobham and Jan (“Miami Vice”) Hammer amongst the other band members – but the end result is 40 minutes of turgid nonsense.

I verified this a few weeks ago by pure coincidence. I discovered that – maybe for all the wrong reasons – I had a copy of the “Birds of Fire” CD loitering amongst my collection. I drove to the gym and back a few times listening to it in the car. It may be the reason I couldn’t WAIT to get to the gym?!

Tomorrow… find out everything you didn’t want to know about Deep Purple’s “In Rock”…

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August 3rd 1973

“Roger came for me at 10 – said Ward wanted me to work all day – did so. Swapped my Scalextric for Bernard’s organ”

I will now pause whilst the more juvenile amongst you make up your own jokes…………

Done?

Good….. 😉

Right, so having been denied an earlier opportunity to become a Scalextrix racing Car driver of some considerable note, it appears evident that my fascination for this toy had decreased considerably since early 1972.

So much so that I decided to trade it for our newer neighbour’s electric piano….. OK, OK… ‘organ’ (*tee hee*)

Bernard had a young kid – Jonathan I think his name was – making my Scalextric a good fit. I doubtless had dreams of becoming the next Jon Lord or Keith Emerson, so this organ was a good fit too.

Bernard’s *ahem* organ – as it will doubtless continue to be referred to – was something of a toy instrument really. When you turned it on, a huge fan sound ensued – a noise only quelled when you pushed down a key as the wind rushed across (presumably) some kind of reed. You could only play one key at a time.

I can neither confirm nor deny poking a few kitchen knives in between the keys as per Keith Emerson’s stage act, however I bet I mastered Smoke on the Water in double quick time

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An Aside – My “History of Music” Project: Part I

This is the back cover. I hope everyone can read it OK?

Please note that in amongst the plethora of big name acts (Presely, The Beatles, Dylan, Zeppelin etc) I have included such other musical giants such as Man, Deke Leonard, and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. What?

“Rock” was the main ‘fireball’ it would seem – apt I guess given Deep Purple’s dominance at the time – but please note that “Ballad”, “Motown”, “Soul” and “the Classics” have also been deemed worthy of inclusion for the years beyond 1973.

I REALLY hope I knew how to spell “future” and my attempt was merely covered by tape?

“Everything” is apparently included, from “Frank Sinatra and the Inkspots” to… erm… “Gary Glitter and Focus”. Dear oh dear, oh dear.

Nice to realise that the cover, sleeve notes and artwork were ALL by l’il ol’ me. Nothing like some self-delusional ego-promotion at the age of 15 is there?

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