MOTT THE HOOPLE – ” Brain Capers “

Posted: September 13, 2018 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

Probaly Best known to most for their David Bowie-penned and produced 1972 hit single, “All the Young Dudes,” actually briefly broke up after their fourth album, Brain Capers, flopped. Bowie convinced them to stick it out, and he and Mick Ronson would co-produce the fifth album, All the Young Dudes, that added another two solid years of great work for this great band.

Aesthetically, Bowie glammed them up with silvery stage costumes and thigh-high boots, a far cry from the brawling image that came out of their raucous concerts, which could result in full-scale riots. Released in the UK in November 1971 (January 1972 in the U.S.), Brain Capers captures that mayhem, especially on “The Moon Upstairs,” with lyricist Ian Hunter at his angriest: “We ain’t bleeding you, we’re feeding you, but you’re too fucking slow.”

Not surprisingly, Mott the Hoople’s fans included British punk progenitors the Sex Pistols and The Clash, both whom became household names a few years later. In fact, while on his book tour last year Pistols guitarist Steve Jones confirmed that he and his future bandmates witnessed firsthand one of Mott’s infamous shows, circa 1971, during which riot police were called in. Johnny Rotten & Co. concluded, “That’s what we want to do!”

On Brain Capers, Mott’s softer, acoustic, bluesy side came through the cover versions of Dion’s “Your Own Backyard,” while its take on westcoast rockerJesse Colin Young’s “Darkness Darkness” was heavier than the original.

Mott was something of a schizophrenic band in that they’d oscillate between the heaviness, also evident on Brain Capers’ “Death May Be Your Santa Claus” (co-written by Hunter and organist Verden Allen), and what would later be considered Americana. That was the influence of Mott guitarist Mick, who dominated the band’s third album, Wildlife, which some fans and even the band dismissed as “Mildlife.” Ralphs received a co-writing credit on “The Moon Upstairs,” and one can assume that he worked on the music.

Even though Mott the Hoople hit a musical peak with their self-produced “Mott” album following its Bowie Dudes excursion, Ralphs seemed to resent Hunter being pushed by management to be front-and-center. Allen left after Dudes, although the rhythm section of Buffin (drums) and Pete Watts (bass) remained, even after Hunter left in 1975 for a solo career with Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson on-board.

On the road, Ralphs crossed paths with singer Paul Rodgers, who felt a similar frustration with his band Free. They joined forces and gave birth to Bad Company, interestingly Led Zeppelin’s first signing on its Atlantic Records imprint, Swan Song. Rodgers was better equipped – even the Dylanesque-voiced Hunter admitted so – to emote Ralph’s words on songs like “Ready For Love,” which Bad Company included on its 1974 debut.

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