Mott the Hoople

Mad Shadows

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If Mott the Hoople's debut album cheerfully careened all over the place, their second, Mad Shadows, has one direction -- downward into dense murk. Cutting out most of their humor and ratcheting up the volume, the group turns out seven songs that alternate between thundering rockers and sludgy introspection. This all sounds good on paper, but Mad Shadows isn't a thrilling journey into the darkside, simply because the band and producer Guy Stevens are so unfocused that it barely holds together, despite such fine moments as the rampaging "Walkin' with a Mountain" and the closing ballad "When My Mind's Gone." Any record with songs as strong as these is worth hearing, and it's possible to find the confusion itself rather fascinating, but only if you're dedicated enough to delve into darkness with the band. Otherwise, this is primarily of interest as a transitional affair, with its best moments showcased on the excellent compilation, Backsliding Fearlessly.

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