Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs
The story goes that after David Bowie — finally a breakout star thanks to ‘Hunky Dory’ — found out that Mott the Hoople — a struggling boogie-blues band — were about ready to break up, he offered to produce their next record. He even gave them one of his new songs, ‘Suffragette City,’ which they didn’t want. Bowie saved the song for his next album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars,’ and wrote a new song especially for the band, on the spot, with the group’s frontman Ian Hunter sitting close by. The song, ‘All the Young Dudes,’ transformed the cult band into glam-rock heroes overnight, and Hunter — previously a snarling singer with a Bob Dylan obsession — into a stardust-sprinkled spokesman for a group of platform-wearing glitter kids. Our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs is heavy on the glam, but you’ll find a song or two from their early incarnation in here, too.
‘Rock and Roll Queen’
Before Bowie sprinkled stardust on them for their fifth album, Mott the Hoople were a British boogie band that sounded a lot like their fellow countrymen who had a thing for American R&B and blues music. Their self-titled debut album is a clumsy mix of covers (‘You Really Got Me’) and sloppy originals (‘Rabbit Foot and Toby Time’). ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ is the one keeper.
‘One of the Boys’
After making four albums that very few people heard, Mott the Hoople were about ready to call it quits when red-hot Bowie stepped in as the band’s producer, handpicked some great songs for them to cover, encouraged their own songwriting and contributed the great ‘All the Young Dudes’ (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs) to the project. It completely turned the group around. Clocking in at close to seven minutes, ‘One of the Boys’ is the album’s longest songs and the tightest link to their bluesy past.
Once Bowie began steering the band in a more glam direction, Ian Hunter quickly stepped up with his own songs, twisting the blues-rock crunch of his previous work into showier and more stinging tunes. ‘Jerkin’ Crocus’ is one of his earliest stabs at writing in the new style and a highlight of the ‘All the Young Dudes’ album.
‘Crash Street Kidds’
By 1974’s ‘The Hoople,’ the band was beginning to fall apart. Guitarist Mick Ralphs was gone, and Mott’s shifting personnel pretty much left Hunter in control of the group. But they managed to pull it together for their final album, their toughest-sounding LP and in some ways their most ambitious. ‘Crash Street Kidds’ is noisy excess, but it’s totally glorious noisy excess.
‘Hymn for the Dudes’
A sequel of sorts to ‘All the Young Dudes’ (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs), ‘Hymn for the Dudes’ is the centerpiece of the band’s quickly assembled follow-up to their breakthrough album, and this time they produced themselves. As its title lets on, ‘Hymn for the Dudes’ takes on some spiritual tones, with Hunter checking in with one of his all-time greatest performances.
‘Roll Away the Stone’
Even though they lost guitarist Mick Ralphs, who formed Bad Company with Paul Rodgers, Mott the Hoople packed their final album with some of their best singles. ‘Roll Away the Stone’ was one of the last records they made with Ralphs, but the version most people are familiar with is a re-recorded take featuring new guitarist Ariel Bender. It’s also the version found on ‘The Hoople.’ Either way, it’s a great song.
‘The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll’
‘All the Young Dudes’ and ‘Mott’ are the band’s two best albums, but there’s plenty of terrific songs on the band’s final record too (see No. 5 on our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs). The LP’s lead-off track and second single features a searing guitar solo by new member Ariel Bender and one of Hunter’s most passionate vocals. Plus, that old-school rock ‘n’ roll thing they do swings like crazy.
It took them more than four years and just as many albums until they had their breakout hit, thanks to Bowie’s help. When Mott returned the following year, they produced themselves, closely following the template Bowie had laid out for them. ‘Honaloochie Boogie’ was the first taste of ‘Mott,’ and it’s one of the group’s best, a mid-tempo pop song with a glam-rock topping.
‘All the Way From Memphis’
With success came some typical rock-star problems. Like gear being lost during overseas tours. ‘All the Way From Memphis’ chronicles an incident in which Mick Ralphs’ guitar was shipped to a different state than the one in which the band was playing. It’s also a slam on rock-star excess, something the somewhat struggling Mott the Hoople still knew little about.
‘All the Young Dudes’
When David Bowie decided to step in and save Mott the Hoople’s dying career, they were little more than a cult British boogie-blues band with a few decent songs in their catalog (see No. 10 on our list of the Top 10 Mott the Hoople Songs). Then Bowie — basking in the glory of ‘Hunky Dory’ — offered the group his newly penned ‘Suffragette City.’ They rejected it. Then he wrote ‘All the Young Dudes’ specifically for them, changing their course and fortunes. The song became an anthem for glam kids everywhere, and the band suddenly found themselves showered in glitter and global acclaim.