by Mott the Dog
***** 5 Stars Rating
“The Hoople” caught “Mott the Hoople” at the
peak of their creative studio powers and is simply stunning in its
songwriting, structure, musicianship, and most importantly, capturing the
spirit of the times.
“The Hoople” was released in March 1974 and was
certified gold in both Britain and the United States of America before its
All the songs were composed by Ian Hunter apart from
one track: “Born Late 58”, where Overend Watts made his writing debut.
The album is topped and tailed by the two hit singles,
opening track “The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with its pseudo
Alan Freed introduction and Ariel Bender’s manic guitar solo in the
middle, giving the album a rousing beginning; and then closing with the
Mott anthem “Roll Away The Stone”.
Although there are many wonderful tracks in between
it’s the second song up that this review is going to concentrate on.
Surely Mott the Hoople’s best and most influential track,
“Marionette”, going straight for the jugular and the cornerstone of
“Marionette” was a frantic operetta and a
production masterpiece. It’s about the business side of rock and the
manner it could affect musicians manipulated by management. The song was a
nightmarish mini opera of five minutes duration, a concept that would
shortly be used by Queen for their multi-million-selling single
Ian Hunter said of his freshly penned ditty at the
time, “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do as a songwriter, and
that is to do a five minute opera, a hook all the time. I think we got it
with Marionette. With this song one thing hits you, then another thing
hits you straight away. You never get time to be distracted.”
The song featured the boys in the band plus Andy Mackay
and Howie Casey on saxophones; Mike Hurwitz on cello; Graham Preskitt of
demonic violin, Hunter; Bender and Watts contributed “Voix grotesques a
la Quasimodo” backing vocals; and Ariel Bender was responsible for the
insane cackles of laughter in the middle.
Once heard this song is never forgotten, especially,
I’m sure, by some of the record industry moguls it refers to. When
played live the wicked gleam of venom in Hunter’s eyes could be seen
through his shades at the back of the hall.
The closing lines, as Hunter collapsed over his
keyboards with guitarist Ariel Bender standing over him taunting as if
cutting the strings, were very prophetic as three months later Ian Hunter
had a physical and nervous breakdown and Mott the Hoople were no more.
the show’s been fun
But my wood’s begun to warp
They won - I’m done
New one - begun
I did my best
It just couldn’t last
Get me out of this mess
It all happened so fast
Now I need a rest
Where’s my sanity - Mother?
I did my best
I’m just like all the rest.
They gambled with my life
And now I’ve lost my will to fight
Oh God, these wires are tight...
I’m just a marionette”.
A fantastic track far more influential than anybody
dared think at the time.
But “Marionette” is only one of many great tracks
on “The Hoople”. “Alice” is a song about a 42nd street lady of the
night, while “Crash Street Kidds” is Mott the Hoople at their rockin’
best. “Born Late 58” gave an inclining of what Overend Watts was
capable of. Pearl and Roy showed they had not forgotten their roots,
whilst “Trudi’s Song” was a quiet gentle love song to Ian Hunter’s
wife, who is now his business manager. They remain married today - 30
years later. Quite unique in the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
“The Hoople” was Mott the Hoople’s biggest
selling album worldwide, and deservedly so.
Ariel Bender - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Dale Griffin - Drums
Ian Hunter - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Overend Watts - Bass, Vocals
Morgan Fisher - Keyboards, Synthesizer
1. The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll
4. Crash Street Kidds
5. Born Late 58
6. Trudi’s Song
7. Pearl ‘n’ Roy (England)
8. Through The Looking Glass
9. Roll Away The Stone