|> CD Collection|
The Hoople Live - 30th Anniversary Edition
Review No: 272
Overend Watts: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Ariel Bender: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Morgan Fisher: Piano, Vocals
Dale Griffin: Drums, Vocals
Blue Weaver: Organ (Broadway)
Mick Bolton: (Hammersmith)
Stan Tippins: Vocals (All The Young
At last; a proper release for this masterpiece of a live album in tribute to one of the great rock ‘n’ roll bands of the mid-seventies. Mott the Hoople “Live” was originally released in 1974, but because of time restraints, only part of two concerts were put out as the first vinyl bound release. This consisted of five songs from a concert of their week long residency at the Uris theatre Broadway May 1974, and three songs from their end of tour Christmas gigs 1973, at London’s Hammersmith Odeon; hardly satisfactory.
As none of the songs ran in order, there were two songs midway through each side, “Rose” and “Rest In Peace”, which were used in the sets to give the members of the band a bit of a breather from all the leaping about, neither side had an opening number, and side one ended with a truncated version of the final encore, whilst side two closed with the end of the set proper, so although there were plenty of flashes of excitement, nothing like the full thing.
Here you get both concerts in their proper running order. Unfortunately there were recording glitches at Hammersmith and we lose “Hymn For The Dudes” and “All The Way From Memphis”; time constraints meant one song had to be culled from the Broadway show, and Ariel Bender’s solo track “Here Comes The Queen’’ was left off which is a shame, but not really a Mott The Hoople number anyway. But the results are simply devastating.
At this time (late ‘73 to early ‘74) Mott The Hoople was probably the number one live act in the world. Led Zeppelin was having their troubles, the Beatles had long gone, the Rolling Stones were going through their “Black and Blue” period, Black Sabbath was doing their Los Angeles thing, David Bowie had split up the Spiders from Mars, Deep Purple were not sure who was in the band and who wasn’t. So the field was wide open and Mott grabbed it with both hands.
Touring both the Britain and America with a fledgling
Queen in support, they took no prisoners. Their last album ,”The
Hoople”, had just smashed its way into the top twenty on both sides
of the Atlantic, whilst their fifth hit single, “The Golden Age
Of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, was firmly entrenched in the top
ten of the singles charts worldwide.
They looked “The Business” - they were obviously it, seemingly without trying. They appeared as an agglomeration of bright colours, bizarre shapes, scarves, leather, sunglasses, velvet, huge boots, strange felt hats, blending seamlessly into masses of hair, beer bottles, battered guitar cases covered with stickers and that added something: swagger. They exuded attitude, easy humour and the utter confidence borne of knowing you’re the best.
They had within the last year acquired the services of one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarists to ever draw breath, the marvellously monikered Ariel Bender (previously known as Luther Grosvenor of Spooky Tooth fame) who could not only play the guitar like a ringin’ the bell, but also threw the most magnificent shapes, throwing his guitar behind his back, or in the air, as he did it, being the perfect foil for the menacing leader of the band, Ian Hunter, who stood centre stage glaring out at the audience behind his shades, daring them not to get out of their seats and cause a riot.
Also in the line-up was the originator of all the weird and wonderful clothes worn by all those people who followed in glam rock, bass player Overend (Pete) Watts. Overend used to daily spray paint his long hair silver and virtually be winched onto stage, such was the height of his platform boots.
Behind the drums was the mercurial Dale (Buffin) Griffin, who when he wasn’t hitting his chosen instruments as hard as he could, would be scattering them across the stage with well aimed kicks.
In total contrast on the piano forte was Mr Morgan Fisher, rockin’ his heart out, wearing a white piano keyboard suit, with a floppy bow tie, tifter on his head, and a perfectly groomed handlebar moustache adorning his upper lip.
Then there was the music. Even with Queen as support there was never any doubt who the headline act was. Mott would swing relentlessly on stage and go unstoppably into their show every night. The intro from Holtz’s Jupiter from “The Planets” was the intro theme to prelude the celebration of rock ‘n’ roll that was to follow. On Broadway they did a clever little opening with Ian Hunter singing the opening bars of Don MacLean’s American Pie, backed only by Morgan Fisher’s tinkling piano, but when it gets to the line “The day that music died” Overend Watts steps up to ask the crowd “Or did it?” whereupon the whole band breaks into a thundering version of “The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll” complete with over the top sonic guitar solo from Ariel Bender.
Over both concerts there are too many highlights to mention them all, but “Hymn for the Dudes’’ and Hunter’s mini Rock Opera about the music business with the immortal lines “These wires are tight”, “Marionette” are particular highlights from the Broadway shows, and the final Rock ‘n’ Roll medley from the Hammersmith Odeon with its pieces of Mott classics alongside snippets from the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis and David Bowie are unforgettable, with Ariel Bender laying down some volcanic guitar over every song, and Ian Hunter playing ringmaster to the crowd throughout the concerts.
This two CD package comes beautifully encased in a cardboard and plastic Digi-pack with all the original sleeve notes, plus a new booklet and an eight hundred word essay by Brian May of Queen, which is worth the price of the package on its own. If you want to hear how rock ‘n’ roll should be played, buy this package.
My only regret is that nobody had the sense to film either of these events, so we could have a visual record of Mott The Hoople live, at the peak of their powers.