Posts Tagged ‘Dale “Buffin” Griffin’

Universal Music will, in November, issue Mental Train: The Island Years 1969-1971, a new six-disc Mott The Hoople box set which delivers everything the band recorded during their time at Island Records including many bonus tracks and unreleased material.

Mental Train includes the four albums – Mott The Hoople(1969),Mad Shadows (1970), Wildlife (1970) and Brain Capers (1971) – each of which include eight or nine bonus tracks, including A-sides, B-sides, demos, rehearsals and alternate takes.

The fifth CD includes more unheard and unreleased music from the Island archive while the final disc features live material recorded at Fairfield Hall, Croydon on 13th September 1970 and a BBC Radio One In Concert from the Paris Theatre, London on 30th December 1971.

The studio albums have all been remastered from the original tapes (where available) by Andy Pearce and this set comes in what looks like the familiar Universal ‘shoebox’ package (Tears For Fears, Simple Minds etc.) with a a 50-page booklet designed by Phil Smee with sleeve notes by Kris Needs.

6CD box set • Island albums + bonus tracks • disc of unreleased outtakes

For a band lasted a little over five years, the British hard rockers Mott the Hoople managed to squeeze in two golden eras: the one everybody knows, which kicked off in the summer of 1972 when David Bowie handed them a 45 rpm lifeline with the glam-revolution anthem “All the Young Dudes”; and the one that too few people know, a fury of progressive-rock ideas, brass-knuckled application and Ian Hunter’s working-class English-Dylan vocal attack over four albums in the three struggling years covered by this box set.

Named and produced by the lunatic studio savant Guy Stevens, the original Mott guitarist Mick Ralphs, organist Verden Allen, bassist Overend Watts, drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin and Ian Hunter, the last to join on piano and guitar made luminous trouble, arming the jump and innocence of early rock & roll with the exotic afterburn of psychedelia and the looming force of metal on the late-1969 U.K. debut Mott The Hoople and the swift 1970 followup Mad Shadows. 

As the main writers, often in collaboration, Hunter and Ralphs combined brawny menace and bracing melodicism, blessed with an engine room at once taut and relentless. Some of the tracks across this span got on FM radio in America: the serial explosions of “Thunderbuck Ram” on Mad Shadows; Ralphs’ bright U.S.-tour memoir “Whiskey Women” on 1971’s Wildlife; the dark side of the hippie era that Hunter brought to the Youngbloods’ “Darkness Darkness” on ’71’s Brain Capers. The ones that didn’t get on air still astound: the brawling-Stones rush of “Walking With a Mountain” on Mad Shadows; the fast, feral glee in “The Moon Upstairs” on Brain Capers with its immortal lines, “We ain’t bleeding you/We’re feeding you/But you’re too fucking slow.” New York punks the Dictators used to cover that one live .

The two-plus hours of live and studio bonus material that enrich this telling run from the very beginning (a fragment of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” Hunter’s audition piece when he first sang for the others in 1969) to early versions of songs they carried to their Bowie-triggered resurrection — “One of the Boys”, a prototype of “Momma’s Little Jewel,” both with more formative snarl. On the eve of what Hunter assures will be the last-ever Mott tour — with the surviving members of his ’74 glam gang, guitarist Ariel Bender and pianist Morgan Fisher — it is worth taking a step back to this incisively written, brilliantly detonated mayhem. The best rock & roll stories have glorious endings. Here is one with a roaring, enduring start.

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