Tag Archives: mott the hoople

September 27th 1975

“Good Day at work. Bought a load of singles. Went up Holly’s in the evening (awutrws)”

How many people can say they’ve had a “good day at work”?

I wonder if my “good day” was the result of a fun time behind the counter or that I spent my hard-earned wages on a handful of singles?

Naturally I can remember each and every one of 45s I bought that day.

No I can’t. Of course I can’t.

However, let us browse the singles I own that were released in 1975 and indulge in a little bit of wild speculation shall we?…

10cc – “I’m Not in Love”
To say that this song catapulted 10cc’s career into the stratosphere is something of an understatement. It was one of THE massive hit singles of 1975, ubiquitous on every radio station and at every party you ever went to. DJs would use it as a cornerstone of their slow dance ‘erection section’ where the lights dimmed and hormonal teen couples would clutch onto one another on the dancefloor and gently rock from side to side whilst simultaneously trying to ‘cop a feel’ of…, well, whatever they could cop a feel of.

Oh, was that just me?

The Stylistics – “Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)”
Just one of the soul bands which emerged from Philadelphia in the 1970’s, The Stylistics enjoyed a somewhat lopsided career path. Whilst they were working with famed Philly Sound producer Thom Bell they enjoyed several huge transatlantic hits (including “Betcha by Golly, Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New“) Then, in 1974, Bell stopped working with the group, a move which almost completely devastated their US career. The group decided to instead play to their European strengths, teamed up with Van (“The Hustle”) McCoy and started releasing ‘poppier’ dance tracks, the first of which was this engaging classic which reached #1 on the UK singles chart.

The Sound of Philadelphia along with various borrowed Motown Chartbusters compilations became solely responsible for opening my musical ears to a whole slew of music which I had previously – and, I admit, somewhat snobbishly – ignored.

Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom”
…. and we’re back to Philadelphia once again!

Legend has it that this track was written specifically as an homage to female tennis player Billie Jean King and that Elton asked his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, to scribble something about her hometown.

What started off as a tribute to his favourite tennis player ended up as another #1 hit single in Elton’s vast canon whilst also managing to honour Philadelphia in its production, owing much to the sound and soulful arrangements of Gamble/Huff and/or the aforementioned Thom Bell.

Supertramp – “Dreamer”
Supertramp’s wonderful album “Crime of the Century” had emerged in 1974 and although I already had a copy of it committed to tape I must have thought I could not live without this single release, containing a pair of the cuts.

“Dreamer” is as classic a pop song now as it was back in the mid-70’s, that electric piano hook relentlessly catchy.

The b-side “Bloody Well Right” is almost as good, Roger Hodgson & Co coming up with another slice of perfect pop. Infectious enough to have been a hit single in its own right… or, if you will, bloody well right.

Jasper Carrott – “Funky Moped”
Jasper was a folk singer turned stand-up comedian from Birmingham who hit the peak of his popularity in the middle-to-late 70’s, helped along by the success of this hit single, wherein he sings the praises of the low-rent pedal motorcycle. (For the record I owned one a few years later, a lovely little black Raleigh Runabout, similar to the one in the photo on right).

However, no-one was buying the single for that appalling A-side. It was being bought in its thousands for the comedy sketch Jasper offered up on the B-side, a rib-tickling behind the scenes ‘adult’ story featuring the cast of children’s TV favourite “The Magic Roundabout“, wherein not only is the sexuality of Florence brought into question but Zebedee’s trademark “Boinngggg” is used to evil effect.

Like all other tracks listed here, click on the links to hear/see the videos on You Tube.

Jasper’s ‘claim to fame’ continued well into his 50’s. Not only was he one of the founding investors in the concept of hit TV quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” (later selling his shares for a reputed £10m) but he is also the father of popular actress Lucy Davis, most recognised for playing ‘Dawn’ in the original UK version of Ricky Gervais’ “The Office”

Ace – “How Long?”
Formed in Sheffield in 1972 “Ace Flash & the Dynamos” shortened their name to just Ace, and enjoyed moderate success in the seventies which culminated in this superb slice of pop history, as perfect an example of ‘hit single’ as there’s ever been.

Ace frontman Paul Carrack went on to find success with a solo career and is a sought-after session musician, playing keyboards with such artists as Eric Clapton, Roxy Music and Squeeze.

I LOVE the sound of this single, that slightly funked up R&B/Soul influence never failing to help me get my own little personal groove on over the years.

Ian Hunter – “Once Bitten Twice Shy”
“ULLO!!”

Mott the Hoople’s frontman has had quite the successful solo career since he quit the band back in the late 70’s. He learned a lot from David Bowie’s writing style, conjuring up a handful of infectious singles as well as employing David sidekick, Mick Ronson, as his producer of choice.

The “Ian Hunter” solo album – which includes this cut – remains one of rock music’s unsung little masterpieces. I always have a hard time comprehending just why it is not better recognised by either critics or rock fans.

“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” was also a US #5 hit single for the rock band Great White. However, the less said about that, the better, eh?

I wonder how many of these singles I played to Holly in the evening? I do know that my own diary slang, “awutrws” – later crossed out to protect me from potential prying parental eyes – suggested I was something of a privileged and lucky young chap that night. Yes, of course I remember what it relates to, but I am far too much of a gentleman to share the acronym’s meaning with you. Some things have to be kept private, y’know?!!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

(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)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1974 Diary Entries

November 21st 1973

“Borrowed Ziggy Stardust”

Reading and realising the significance of this diary entry staggered me.

What it means is that DESPITE having seen Bowie on tour a few months earlier, I had STILL NOT actually bought  his “The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars” album.

I borrowed it to commit it, merely, to tape. How considerably LAME is that?

I am especially horrified because this album, probably moreso than any other, is one that I grew to know inside out, start-to-finish, every nuance, note and lyric.

It is, to me, the consumate, most complete, Bowie album in his vast cannon of work.

Supposedly presenting the ‘story’ of an alien trying to warn the world of impending doom, the Ziggy Stardust character descends into a seedy world of promiscuity and drugs, and is eventually destroyed by his rabid fans.

Five Years” kicks proceedings off with that mournful single drumbeat whilst the lyrics tells us that “earth was really dying” and we have the titular amount of time left.

Soul Love” tries to document the various kinds of love that exist in the world; spiritual, romantic, grief, etc. I have always adored the line “love is careless in its choosing” which suggests both destiny and fate have an impact on who we find as a  soul mate.

Moonage Daydream” starts with Mick Ronson’s fierce guitar riff and introduces the listener to the ‘space invader” (Ziggy Stardust) who is enticing doomed humans to “press your space face close to mine love” and “freak out in a moonage daydream“. What has always made this song special for me is the baritone sax solo in the middle.

Starman” is perhaps famous for originally NOT being on this album, Bowie having to be persuaded to add it after it was felt by his producers and the record label there was no “hit single” amongst the tracklisting. Bowie has changed his take on the meaning of “Starman” as a chapter in the whole Ziggy story over the years but the general consensus seems to be that it was the song Ziggy played – via some kind of intergalactic radio – to inspire people to follow him into outer space and escape the doomed planet Earth. Some, apparently, don’t hear the words, mooting “that weren’t no DJ that was hazy cosmic jive“. It’s almost impossible – maybe even criminal – NOT to love lyrics like that isn’t it?

It Ain’t Easy” closes Side 1, and is a (space) oddity in its own right. Not only is it not one of Bowie’s own compositions (it was written several years earlier by American blues songwriter Ron Davies) it seems to have no relevance whatsoever to the album’s concept or storyline.

The song had already been recorded by artists such as Long John Baldry and Three Dog Night, but in the ultimate example of  ‘THAT’s weird!’ Dave Edmunds recorded a version of the song on his 1972 Rockpile album… which was released at almost the same time as Ziggy Stardust!

Side 2 starts with what is generally felt is Bowie’s homage to fellow glam-rocker Marc Bolan; “Lady Stardust” (Allegedly, a demo version exists entitled “A Song for Marc”). Regardless, it remains a beautifully-executed acoustic ballad about a strangely androgynous pop star, returning us, albeit obliquely, to the ‘alien’ theme of the storyline.

Star” is driven by boogie-woogie piano and Mick Ronson’s (again) fierce guitar work, with Ziggy making a “transformation” into “a rock n’ roll star

Hang Onto Yourself” should always be played as loud as your speakers (or ears) will allow. The guitar work is wicked and I find it almost impossible NOT to stamp my feet along with the rhythm every single time I hear it. Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols is on record admitting that their riff for “God Save the Queen” was partially stolen from Ronson’s on “Hang Onto Yourself”

Ziggy Stardust” – as the name suggests – is the pivotal song in the album’s surreal concept. It is often reported that Bowie initially wrote this as a tribute to early English Rock & Roll legend Vince Taylor (of Vince Taylor & the Playboys) who achieved massive success in the early 60’s before plummeting into obscurity as a result of severe drug abuse. However, other resources suggest the lyrics are merely Bowie’s vague acknowledgement of several ‘musical messiahs’, most specifically Jimi Hendrix (…”he played it left hand, but made it to far“)

As far as the story goes, “Ziggy Stardust” would seem to – in just one song – plot both the rise and the fall of the Ziggy character, going from “we were ziggy’s band” to “when the kids had killed the man, we had to break up the band” in just a handful of stanzas.

Suffragette City” may just be one of my favourite Bowie songs. Maybe even THE favourite? It has just SO much energy and verve, the synthesized sax, guitar, piano and drums all fighting one another for your aural attention, whilst Bowie purely croons over the top. That “Wham Bam Thank You Maam” break (a throwaway lyric stolen from an old Charlie Mingus album) is as thrilling to me now as it was when I first heard it in 1973, likewise the hyper-sexual “… she said she had to squeeze it, then she.. and then she…”

There’s ongoing rumours that Bowie initially offered this song to Mott the Hoople to help them out of the awful financial difficulties they were in at the start of 1972, but that it was rejected by Ian Hunter. Undeterred, Bowie sat down and wrote them “All the Young Dudes” instead!

The album’s finale is the anthemic and ultra-dramatic “Rock n’Roll Suicide” where Ziggy becomes little more than a washed-up rock star, trying in vain to engage his fading audience. I often wonder how many funerals this song has been played at, its “take my hands, you’re wonderful“, “I’ll help you with the pain” and “You’re not alone” all representing – at least to me  – cries both to and from the assembled mourners.

It’s the perfect finish to – to my ears anyway – a perfect album. 38½ minutes of sheer brilliance. I’ve never tired of listening to it, either in segments or its entirety. I have to say that I’ve never really ‘fallen for’ the whole space alien plot thingie, feeling it to be something of a distraction to what are, otherwise, a great set of songs. (I have presented an interpretation of them above without huge levels of any thought if I’m being honest)

I am mortally embarrassed by my admission that I initially only recorded the album, especially when recent entries have suggested that I DID pay money for a couple of LP’s of utter rubbish by Uriah Heep and Procol Harum!

“The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars” was first released on 6th June 1972. It went on to reach #5 in the UK album chart and a paltry #75 in the American chart. Over the years it has appeared consistently in “best albums ever” polls, usually in the top half of the listings.

It has never been out my own personal Top 10.

Back in 2006, Mark, a friend of a friend here in Northern Kentucky informed me that he and his band, Leisure, would be performing the “Ziggy Stardust” album in its entirety at local indie venue, the Southgate House. It was a mere $5  to get in and I have to say it ranks amongst the best five bucks I have ever spent since moving stateside.

The band all dressed up in glitter and glam and VERY enthusiastically and respectfully covered the album – in its original playing order – from start to finish. I sat up on the balcony with a few whisky and cokes thoroughly enjoying and revelling in every single minute of the performance. It’s testament to the band – but not to my shitty memory – that I can remember MORE about that night than seeing Bowie perform Ziggy etc on stage at the Southampton Guildhall in 1973.

Owning Ziggy Stardust should be mandatory for all fans of popular music. Even 15-year-old pirates in 1973! Shame on me!

1 Comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

Number Ones of 1972 (Part 5)

…[continued from Part 4]

You know when you write about a year in these terms – all the number ones – you wonder whether it gives a realistic representation of the music everyone listened to.

In terms of sheer public popularity I guess it does, but in my own personal world I feel there were many different songs – which didn’t reach Number 1 – that I would play over and over again from my weekly tape recordings of the Top 30 show.

So along with the likes of “School’s Out”, “Claire”, T.Rex, Slade, “Son of my Father”,  Lieutenant Pigeon, plus all the Prog rock and pop already mentioned in my 1972 diary entries, would the following songs also stand up and take bow for providing a suitable distraction to the arguments going on at our house…

• America – “A Horse with No Name
• Argent – “Hold Your Head Up
• Blackfoot Sue – “Standing in the Road
• David Bowie –  “John I’m Only Dancing
• David Bowie –  “Jean Genie” 
• David Bowie –  “Starman
• Alice Cooper – “Elected
• Dr Hook – “Sylvia’s Mother
• Electric Light Orchestra – “10538 Overture
• Family – “Burlesque
• Roberta Flack – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
• Gary Glitter – “Rock & Roll Part II
• Hawkwind – “Silver Machine
• The Hollies “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress
• Hot Butter – “Popcorn
• Elton John – “Rocket Man
• John Lennon & Yoko – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
• Lindisfarne – “Lady Eleanor
• Melanie – “Brand New Key
• Mott the Hoople – “All the Young Dudes
• Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now
• Redbone – “Witch Queen of New Orleans
• Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side
• Rolling Stones – “Tumbing Dice
• Roxy Music – “Virginia Plain
• Paul Simon – “Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard
• Ringo Starr – “Back Off Boogaloo
• Status Quo – “Paper Plane
• Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle
• Cat Stevens – “Can’t Keep it In
• Temptations – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone
• 10cc – “Donna
• The Who – “Join Together
• Stevie Wonder – “Superstition

1972 was therefore a year that had me listening to all kinds of music, creating a varied love for it that would not only supply me with an eventual career (of sorts) but a lifetime of many happy memories.

Meanwhile, (I love a good “meanwhile”) 4000 miles away, my future wife who had started her own musical education early was finding that Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was proving to be an awkward choice for her classroom’s show and tell session.

Both of us can now only hope that the 8 and 14-year-old kids of today carry forward the same kind of interest, love and enthusiasm for music into their middle and old age as we have.

1 Comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries, an aside, Asides on the 1970's

August 20th 1972

“took mormor back to london” / “taped all the young dudes, silver machine, seaside shuffle and school’s out” / “coffee evening christine’s house”

My poor, poor Danish grandmother (mormor). She’s been staying with us for the past few weeks and I have mentioned her just the once before now… and that was tell my diary that she was “getting on my wick”. I guess we all should have been grateful she was no more problematic than that? I loved her dearly, but she could really be hard work sometimes!

Christine? Coffee evening? I don’t drink coffee so I’m not quite sure what I was referring to here. I don’t think its one of those cases of “would you like to come in for a coffee” we see in the movies, but I could be wrong?

Looks like I taped a few singles?…

All the Young Dudes – written by David Bowie to specifically give them a hit single – was (like many other people) really my significant introduction to Mott the Hoople.

The song is often referred to as a “glam anthem”, something which it can only be considered as such in retrospect. In 1972, it was ‘just’ another great pop song. Lead singer Ian Hunter is still going these days, his vocal style as distinctive now as it was in 1972. (Let me give a nod to Hunter’s fabulous description of “life on the road”, his biographical “Diary of a Rock & Roll Star“)

I spoke about Hawkwind just a few days ago. I’m still several months away from seeing them play live, but in the meantime their major hit “Silver Machine” would doubtless suffice.

Despite its sci-fi opening and lyrics, writer Robert “Completely Bonkers” Calvert has admitted that the song is something of a send-up of the whole space race stuff that was going on following man’s landing on the moon in 1969. It’s actually about his…. pushbike!

In subsequent years I always found it somewhat amusing to watch people trying to dance to “Silver Machine”. It’s FAR from a song that lends itself to any kind of body rhythms but time after time at “junior discos” at Hiltingbury Pavilion I would stand in one corner and watch people give it their best shot… and invariably fail miserably.

It was years afterwards that I discovered – mainly because the internet had not yet been invented – that this version of Silver Machine was recorded live at the same Greasy Truckers Party gig – and later overdubbed – as the other Hawkwind cuts on that album.

Seaside Shuffle was the solitary chart hit for Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. This was a ‘nom de plume’ for the cult blues band Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts, the lead singer of which was Southampton-born John Lewis, who (are you reading this, trivia freaks?) later became MUCH better known as Stiff recording artist JonaStop the CavalryLewie

Although very much a throwaway pop song, the lyrics reverberate with me now… “It’s a warm day, the sun is shining, someone says let’s go to Brighton”…… *sigh*, if only Mr Dactyl, if ONLY!

The single reached Number 2 in the UK charts. A year later the fake band’s follow-up scraped Number 45 – ‘Nuff said!

I truly believe “School’s Out” to be one of the best – and anarchic – pop songs of all time, and most certainly Alice Cooper‘s finest contribution to the world of Rock’n’Roll.

The refrain “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” is as fierce – at least in my opinion – as anything the much later punk era produced. School’s Out is TRULY an anthem – and one for every subsequent generation it would seem, the song as popular and well-known now as it ever was.

By the way, I would hate for people to think that I only ever taped stuff. As I am sure future diaries will attest, I did get the “vinyl buying bug”, and in a very major way. I do know I subsequently purchased a lot of the singles I first taped, but usually waiting until they had dropped out of the Top 40 and were available cheaply (10-20-30p) from Jack Hobbs, my local music retailer… about whom I shall undoubtedly speak more of in later posts.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries