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Mott the Hoople: Not The Beatles, But More Than “All the Young Dudes”

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The first paragraph of AllMusic’s profile of Mott the Hoople — a band whose name was the title of a 1970s novel by Willard Manus — is a brilliant example of damning with faint praise:

Mott the Hoople are one of the great also-rans in the history of rock & roll. Though Mott scored a number of album rock hits in the early ’70s, the band never quite broke through into the mainstream. Nevertheless, their nasty fusion of heavy metal, glam rock, and Bob Dylan‘s sneering hipster cynicism provided the groundwork for many British punk bands, most notably the Clash. At the center of Mott the Hoople was lead vocalist/pianist Ian Hunter, a late addition to the band who developed into its focal point as his songwriting grew. Hunter was able to subvert rock & roll conventions with his lyrics, and the band — led by guitarist Mick Ralphs — had a tough, muscular sound that kept the group firmly in hard rock territory, even when flirting with homosexual imagery and glammy makeup. However, their lack of success meant that they inevitably splintered apart in the ’70s, with Ralphs forming Bad Company and Hunter launching a cult solo career. (Continue Reading…)

The site Ultimate Classic Rock provides the back story on what undoubtedly is the band’s biggest hit–the video is above–as well as a list of its other top songs:

The story goes that after David Bowie – finally a breakout star thanks to ‘Hunky Dory’ — found out that Mott the Hoople – a struggling boogie-blues band — were about ready to break up, he offered to produce their next record. He even gave them one of his new songs, ‘Suffragette City,’ which they didn’t want. Bowie saved the song for his next album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars,’ and wrote a new song especially for the band, on the spot, with the group’s frontman Ian Hunter sitting close by. The song, ‘All the Young Dudes,’ transformed the cult band into glam-rock heroes overnight, and Hunter — previously a snarling singer with a Bob Dylan obsession — into a stardust-sprinkled spokesman for a group of platform-wearing glitter kids. Our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs is heavy on the glam, but you’ll find a song or two from their early incarnation in here, too. (Continue Reading…)

“Roll Away the Stone” is below.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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