"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
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 with Ariel Bender’s
manic guitar solo in the middle, giving
the album a rousing beginning; and then
closing with the Mott anthem “Roll Away
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 the album.
“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 “Bohemian Rhapsody”. 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
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 deservedly so.
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew