Mott the Hoople

Brain Capers

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Re-teaming with producer Guy Stevens, Mott the Hoople delivered the great forgotten British hard rock album with their fourth outing, Brain Capers. Stevens was a legendary rock & roll wildman and he kept Mott careening through their performances; they sound harder than ever, even dangerous at times. Fortunately, this coincided with Ian Hunter's emergence as a fantastic songwriter, as tuneful and clever as any of his peers. All these changes are evident from the moment Brain Capers kicks in with the monumental "Death May Be Your Santa Claus," a phenomenally pile-driving number that just seems inevitable. As it gives way to a cover of Dion's "Your Own Backyard," it becomes clear that Mott have pulled off the trick of being sensitive while still rocking. And that's not the end of it -- they ride an epic wave on the nine-minute "The Journey," pull off a love song on "Sweet Angeline," and generally rock like hell throughout the record. The most amazing thing about the album is that none of the songs really change character -- it's all straightforward hard rock, graced with Dylanesque organ -- but there are all sorts of variations on that basic sound, proving how versatile they are. It's a fantastic album, and stands as the culmination of their early years. When a record this confident and tremendous is stiffed, it's little wonder they thought about chucking it all in; and it isn't a surprise that, when they decided to continue, it was with a change in sound. They couldn't have topped this if they tried.

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