Mott the Hoople

Mott the Hoople/Mad Shadows

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This two-on-one CD exemplifies quite clearly how inconsistent and unfocused Mott the Hoople was in their formative years. One has to wonder just how dedicated to this band producer Guy Stevens really was. Their self-entitled debut starts out with three cover songs, including an instrumental of "You Really Got Me" and immediately followed by Doug Sahm and Sonny Bono pieces. With a musical style that alternately borrows from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, Mott the Hoople didn't have much of an identity to call their own. With both elongated and aborted jams, it's as though Stevens simply wanted to get something -- anything -- down on tape without actually producing. Their second album, Mad Shadows, consists entirely of original pieces, most of which were written by lead singer Ian Hunter, who wrote only one selection for the previous album. So while this group was starting to coalesce as a band, they still lacked guidance in the producer's chair. It must have been Stevens' belief that, as long as songs were written, the band was playing, and the tape was recording, his job was done. In retrospect, this album wasn't quite the muddled and psychotic disaster as portrayed. Hunter was beginning to hone his songwriting craft, which always contained elements of cynicism, self-deprecation, and reflection. Guitarist Mick Ralphs was perhaps given too much free rein, but both he and the band benefited in the long run from his excesses. This was a shaky beginning, indeed, but had things gone smoother and Island Records provided a more suitable producer, Mott the Hoople probably wouldn't have eventually required the services of David Bowie and evolved into the legendary rock & roll band that they became.

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