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Mott the Hoople - Wildlife

Review: 209
Date: 31 Dec 04

 


Rating: 2 Stars

Musicians:
Ian Hunter - Piano and Vocals
Mick Ralphs - Guitar, and Vocals
Overend Watts - Bass Guitar
Verden Allen - Organ
Dale Griffin (Buffin) - Drums

Tracks Listing:
Whisky Woman
Angel Of Eighth Avenue
Wrong Side Of The River
Waterlow
Lay Down
It Must Be Love
Original Mixed Up Kid
Home Is Where I Want To Be
Keep a Knockin
Bonus Tracks
It’ll Be Me
Long Red

 


This is where it all went wrong for Mott the Hoople. Following up their great debut album with the hard edged ‘Mad Shadows’, they had staked out the claim for Mott the Hoople to be one of the UK’s best rock ’n’ roll units. Their new album was waited for with bated breath by their many fans, but instead of breaking out of the speakers and grabbing you by the throat, it dribbled out with a whimper.

The Songs were not actually bad. In fact, the two Ian Hunter ballads "Angel Of Eighth Avenue" and "Waterlow" are 24-carat classics, and a couple of Mick Ralph’s contributions would fit well onto any Poco album. (Is there anybody out there who will still admit to being a fan of those champions of the wimpy country rock genre?)

The sad solitary live track, a cover of Little Richard’s ‘Keep A Knockin’, is simply awful. There are much better versions of this chestnut of Mott the Hoople’s early rock ’n’ roll jamborees on bootleg recordings (even a typical early seventies bootleg done with a handheld microphone would compare favorably with this muddy grotesque version.) So all in all not much of an effort really.

To be fair to the band, six months later all of the songs had been dropped from the live stage act, even their beloved ‘Keep a Knockin’, to be replaced by the much harder edged material that was later put out on their next album "Brain Capers", when original mentor and producer Guy Stevens returned to the scene after being unceremoniously dumped for the recording of their third album. But the damage had been done by ‘Wildlife’ and it took intervention of a certain David Bowie a year later to put them back on the brink of superstardom.

Mott the Hoople was constantly on the edge of global domination, but always somehow managed to mess things up at the last moment, wrestling defeat from the jaws of victory. The band was already re-naming the album ‘Mildlife’ by the time they were doing the rounds of interviews to promote the album. It is a mark of how far Mott the Hoople had come in their eighteen months together, as ‘Wildlife’ debuted in the British Top Thirty at number 18. Other albums that were in the Top Thirty that week were Jimi Hendrix’ Cry Of Love at number 1; at number 2 was the Yes album by Yes; and number 3 was Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush. Also in the charts were two albums each for Elton John and Pink Floyd, one each for Jethro Tull, John Lennon and George Harrison, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple; debut albums from Emerson Lake and Palmer (that’s one group!), Argent, and Wishbone Ash; plus Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats. So pretty hot competition, but not surprising that number 18 was as high as it was ever likely to go, after people had actually heard it.

Unremarkably, ‘Wildlife’ was the poorest selling album Mott the Hoople ever released. If you want to find out what all the buzz was about the band, look elsewhere than this rather limp collection. This Dog was not named after this weak lot, rather the barely controlled violence of albums like the previous ‘Mad Shadows‘, or ‘ Mott’, Rolling Stone magazine’s album of the Year in 1973. What saves this album from the dreaded "No Stars" is that Angel Air have done a fabulous job of repackaging the five albums Mott the Hoople recorded during their three years with Island Records (their first four albums plus the tidying up collection of odds and ends) into ‘Two Miles from Heaven.’

The songs on this C.D. have been given a great polishing job, leaving them with a clarity they never had originally, plus bonus tracks and a great 20-page booklet with notes by Keith Smith, editor of ‘Two Miles From Heaven’, the Mott the Hoople Fan Club magazine (yes, sad though it is, Mott The Hoople still have an official fan club thirty years after their demise), which is crammed full of replicas of old posters and pictures. The booklet is almost worth the outlay from the album on its own; almost, but not quite.

 

Scribbled rather tamely by Mott the Dog
Sorted out by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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