Mott the Hoople

In 1972, David Bowie gave Ian Hunter a song called "All the Young Dudes" and talked the reclusive, bitter Hunter into resurrecting the literate and tragically unsuccessful Mott the Hoople. For better and worse, Bowie turned the band into the forefathers of glam, complete with knee-high boots and a fashionable androgyny that proved both highly influential and surprisingly short-lived. Hunter and guitarist Mick Ralphs would produce only one worthy follow-up, the beaten and reflective masterpiece titled simply Mott. Categorically superior to Dudes, Mott still stands as rock's most effective treatise on itself, a conflicted monologue on failure, rebirth and the sad trappings of success achieved not on your own terms. "Rock and roll's a loser's game," Hunter wheezed on "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople," exhausted by the shallow truth of popularity, the crass certainty of spotlights and groupies, of audiences screaming for "Sweet Jane" when it was the poignant, folkish "I Wish I Was Your Mother" that was closest to Hunter's heart.

Sony Legacy's expanded Mott includes the excellent B-side "Rose" and a thunderous live version of "Drivin' Sister." Listening to Hunter's Dylanesque rasp and contemptuous manner, it's easy to see why he was such an archetype for early punks like Lydon and Strummer. The greatness of Mott still lies in its defeatism, a negativity that cleared the way for the onslaught of punk and the rejection of acceptability and taste.


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