Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MUSIC: Did I Grow My Hair Just To Scare The Teacher?

The deluxe remastered/repackaged cd versions of Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes & Mott were released today. If you know me, then you probably know of my deep love for this band and the profound effect their music has had and continues to have on my life. Their music hooked me at that very awkward and confusing stage/brick wall that most teenagers run into: That time when you dare not speak your most private of thoughts, but you’d give the world to simply have them validated by someone or some thing. Rock ‘n’ roll validated me, and Mott The Hoople really validated me. To a Midwestern kid locked in his suburban bedroom in the mid-1970's, Mott’s music had one VERY LOUD message: “There’s a great big world out there kid, it ain’t pretty, but that’s the best part...”

So as we continue on in the cd age, with a better reissue followed by a better reissue followed by an even better reissue of our most beloved albums, it’s often a little scary when you finally sit down to listen to the latest “best version yet.” Will the remastering bring new illumination to the diamond, or will too many previously unexposed flaws emerge? Well fear not. Two of the greatest rock records ever made are now even better.

You know all the tales we tell, you know the band so well
“The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople”, from the Mott album.

Those of you not familiar with Mott The Hoople’s music and history may want to start here.

You diehards out there, rejoice:

1. The remastering meets the high standards established by Sony Legacy Recordings. I am so beyond knowing every single sound on these records by heart, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve listened to these records over the past 30+ years, I’d be typing this from some island paradise. YES, they sound amazing, and YES, on first listen I heard things in the music I never heard before, like a cute little drum mistake Buffin made toward the end of "Drive-In’ Sister." (They were rocking like motherfuckers, so the take was an obvious keeper.) What comes through sonically is how little Mott sounded like anything else at the time. The production and engineering on these records were forward looking for the era, but the incredible songs are why these records are so timeless. A lot of great ideas were colliding at once on both. Great ideas that all worked and yet never got in the way of the boys and their rocking.
2. Bonus tracks! Seven on Dudes and four on Mott. There’s some cheating, as a few of these cuts are from the 30th Anniversary Edition import version of their live album, but who cares, the live cuts are all kick ass. B-side "Rose" finally makes it onto a cd, as well as the Bowie/Hunter duet version of "All The Young Dudes." But what is of most historical significance here is the inclusion of five fascinating demos. You have "One of The Boys" with a feel reminiscent of the Who’s "Let’s See Action." There’s a version of "Momma’s Little Jewel" called "Black Scorpio," so fast it’s almost punk rock. And there’s a demo of "Honaloochie Boogie" with completely different lyrics! Great stuff all around.

Only minor complaint I have with either cd is the respective packaging. Both sets of liner notes are fine, but they really dropped the ball on the photos. The band had millions of great photos taken of them during the era of these two records, so it would have been nice to see a few more of them included. I also wish they had completed the trifecta and reissued The Hoople (my personal favorite) at this time, but I’m sure that one will definitely be worth the wait.

Ok you old Sea Divers, time to run out and pick these up. After all these years, Mott The Hoople continues to tell Chuck Berry the news.

Rock ‘n’ Roll’s a loser’s game, it mesmerizes and I can’t explain
The reasons for the sights and for the sounds
The grease paint still sticks to my face
So what the hell? I can’t erase
The Rock ‘n’ Roll feeling from my mind
"The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople", from the Mott album.


Tony Renner said...

Steve --

Ever read the liner notes to the Smashing Pumpkins' Judas Iscariot?

You'll love what Corgan says about their Peel Sessoin experience....

-- Tony

steve scariano said...

Lemme guess, that idiot had problems with Buffin? Who could possibly have a problem with Buffin? :)
I mean, it's Buffin fer chrissakes. We are not worthy...

Steve Pick said...


I don't know why it's not in the stores, but "The Hoople" is out in its remastered, bonus-cut form on Rhapsody.com. And, yeah, that's my personal fave, too. Interestingly, it was the only one I actually heard back in the 70s.

steve scariano said...

Yeah, my friend Jim Musser just made me aware of that as well. What the fuck? Well Steve, you know better than anyone, this is a nutty business, so who knows? Probably some old school record company schmoe discovered that his name was still somewhere on one of the contracts connected to that specific release, and halted the proceedings over an extra hundred dollars or something. :)

Minitru said...

I am so happy that owing to my reciprocal agreement, I can get this for free from Randy Haecker at Legacy. Swag rules.