Mott the Hoople

Shouting and Pointing

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So this is how a great band ends -- with many of its original members but none of its visionaries; with a good idea of what made their band great, but little idea how they used to do it. At least the remnants of Mott the Hoople had the good sense to truncate their name to Mott with 1975's passable Drive On. Its sequel, 1976's Shouting and Pointing, is nothing less than an embarrassment, not just a record that made it blindingly obvious that the band could not carry on, but a record that sounds in hindsight like the roots of Spinal Tap. New lead vocalist Nigel Benjamin is a tad unbearable, particularly when he decides to escalate into a falsetto, but what sinks the record is the attempt to stay true to Mott's loud, glammy update of old-time rock & roll and Ian Hunter's wry, self-deprecating wit. When Hunter commented on the plights of a rock & roll band to a heavy Chuck Berry beat, his humor was sharp, the melancholy was deep, and the music rocked hard. Here, it all sounds like pastiche and parody, whether it's the balls-out rockers, two-part epics, or the "Ballad of Mott the Hoople" rewrite "Career (No Such Thing as Rock 'n' Roll)," which illustrates just what a foolish endeavor this whole enterprise was. Shouting and Pointing isn't necessarily unlistenable, since it's so bad that it inspires a sort of perverse fascination. With each track, you can't believe that it can get worse, but it does, culminating in a ludicrously inept reading of the Vanda/Young classic "Good Times," the only time those words and this record could reasonably be put in the same sentence. Shouting and Pointing follows the same form as one would expect from Mott the Hoople, but gets it hideously wrong, resulting in one of the true nadirs of '70s rock.

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