Mott the Hoople

Wildlife

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Since they had little success and seemed to be going off the tracks, Mott the Hoople was encouraged to produce their third album with anyone that wasn't Guy Stevens. Eventually, they chose themselves, creating a record that is bright and punchy, standing in direct contrast to Mad Shadow's enveloping fog. They wound up with Wildlife, a record that still seems a little transitional, yet is considerably more confident, unified, and enjoyable. Ironically, even if this is a much better record, few songs are as immediately gripping as "Walkin' with a Mountain," but both Mick Ralphs and Ian Hunter turn out some fine rockers, while driving the group toward some interesting territory, like the string-drenched "Waterlow," the country-tinged "It Must Be Love," and the ambling "Original Mixed-Up Kid," or even the surprisingly straight and faithful reading of Melanie's "Lay Down." These give the record a slightly rural feel, lending credence to the title, and the album is unique in Mott's decidedly urban body of work for that very reason -- it's lighter, quirkier, and more friendly than the rest. Of course, it didn't widen their audience, and they returned to brutal rock with Brain Capers, but in retrospect it's a charming anomaly in their catalog.

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