Sound — 8
Recorded in May-June with the original lineup of the group this eponymous debut of Mott The Hoople proves to be among their best albums and gives the listener their strong points as a newly formed band. The asperous hard rock blend of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks along with a sound Lou Reed would later have, has been severely overlooked in their heyday, but proved an enormous inspiration for the British punk explosion that arrived 3 years after their breakup. Unlike most albums of the time this piece voiced anger, defeat, and desperation in a way that spoke directly to the down-and-out kids on the street who were the true fans.
This is a really fine album by an underrated group who are still overlooked in rock history and they are most certainly an important contributor to the metal and glam rock genres being a crucial forerunner to the movements and even other genres as I mention like punk but mainly glam rock I would say, still quite impressive as a group doing this stuff this early. This debut along with their next three albums were produced by the legendary Guy Stevens who even gave the group their name from a book he was reading while he was serving jail time for drug charges. Guy Stevens really was the visionary behind the scenes here definitely not to degrade them in any way, they were the ones who were obviously doing almost all of the magic, there is is that influence there and leadership and by the bands own admission (essentially guiding them musically during this era of the band as a mentor and guru). Stevens really did help the band achieve a sound that was highly desirable with Mott having their own trademark sound of uniqueness. They had some Dylanesque singing on here and flashes of hard rock Rolling Stones blues in here but still held their own identity as a band that still didn't sound like most anything at the time. A colorized lithography of M.C. Escher's lithograph "Reptiles" is an excellent piece for the cover and reminds me of a Morrison lizard king concept.
Lyrics — 9
Mick Ralphs contributes to most of the songwriting here along with Ian Hunter in their original compositions which make up most of the album. Ralphs has a guitar sound in an extraordinary brute fashion that lets Hunter's melodramatic voice really shine. There are excellent execution of songs written by others on here that have this invigorating vitality to them in some really great format from the band. Is superb and very soulful piece ranks among the highlights of Mott The Hoople's career. The album opens with the thundering rendition of Ray Davies' "You Really Got Me" with great wailing wah-wah, the overall backing in here has sketches of great guitar solo work and great piano trills with some precise bluesy organ that steps in near the end. The next track has the a gospel style with that lovely Hammond through a Leslie a distinct quality of organ playing used organist by John Lord of Deep Purple for example. The organ playing alone gives "At the Crossroads" this great gospel rock type of feel in a softer tone and setting then the first track with a kind of whole life experience of loneliness with some of the more deeply emotional lyrics amongst the rest of the albums introspective lyricism quality. Verden Allen gives off great organ work with prowess in certain techniques that add more characteristic to a slow and more moving number like "At the Crossroads" (written by Doug Sahm) which seems to be the main track for me as a personal favorite from the album superb and a very soulful piece ranks among the highlights of Mott The Hoople's career, and there is a slight blues hint with that haunting slide that tops the whole driving force of the rest of the bands momentous performance with great intensity of epic proportions; the whole track gradually builds up towards the end. Sonny Bono's laughing at me is really pulled out in a sadder yet upfront and direct importance of standing up for one's self from judgmental ignoramuses with a angst of indifference if that's possible and of course in a Dylan like voice that is actually excellent in hitting a higher key.
"Backsliding Fearlessly" also portrays the group in that familiar Dylan style yet pertaining to its own band with great intellectual lyrics and symbolism with yet again a very emotional chorus and poetical verses. "Half Moon Bay" is a group demonstrating its fiercely intelligent capabilities as musicians and highly imaginative. "Rock and Roll Queen" offers their sly and humor and shows they are more than capable of delivering more pure hard rock in a groupie anthem. There is a notable transition of totally different ideas merged from track to track but it still blends harmoniously and shows you a very promising band with great skill and unfortunately are overlooked, they may not overall have albums like this, but for the most part there is consistency and in general they are a great band who just needed to do a lot of soul searching and would yield excellent albums like "Brain Capers," "All the Young Dudes" and others with not much that can be said that is bad about them because they always give their full effort and that is clearly evident especially with the raging intensity of buildups and solos like "Rock and Roll Queen."
Overall Impression — 9
This release doesn't fully fit into it's time yet but can easily be distinguished from this era as more of a proto-metal album alongside other endeavors like Free's self-titled album with folk flairs incorporated. Key tracks for me personally are "Rock and Roll Queen" and the well executed harder version of "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks. The original album is quite short being only about thirty-eight minutes in length which is always slightly disappointing with an album of this magnitude but the CD reissue does offer a live Neil Young cover of "Ohio" from the year of the recording of the album and another great Mick Ralphs composition. Overall how the album flows together is a bit strange as a recording of this era as far as what both sides of the original album would provide but it gives a real variety of different renderings that are highly unpredictable. Mott The Hopple was an explosive combination of raw power, Dylanesque histronics, Chuck Berry inspired riffs and personal introspective lyrics. The band's first album, while it lacks the quality self penned material that would show up on Brain Capers, Wildlife and Mott, nonetheless, hints at the band's amazing abilities as intuitive musicians. And Mott The Hoople is a group that didn't understand the barriers that are erected around genres and styles by constantly reinventing themselves changing on albums such as "Mad Shadows" and "Wildlife" like David Bowie would throughout his career. While the album doesn't have the quality self penned material that would show up on "Brain Capers," "Wildlife" and "Mott," nonetheless, hints at the band's amazing abilities as intuitive musicians and serves to be worthwhile and quite enjoyable but maybe not for the superficial music fan.