Posts Tagged ‘Mick Ralphs’

Rock N Roll Fantasy

Celebrating over 50 years since the release of ‘All Right Now’, and Free’s classic album “Fire and Water”, this official book features hundreds of contributions from fans, musicians and, of course, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke.

In their careers beyond Free, Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy follows the band members’ journeys via an oral history of eyewitness accounts and memories, incorporating Bad Company, The Firm, The Law, Queen and other projects. Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy features previously unseen photos and rare, collectable memorabilia from the late-sixties British blues boom to the present day.

Passion, excitement, and emotion are the words that keep cropping up in the pages of this book. The music that Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke have created, solo, as part of Free, Bad Company, Queen and other outfits has deeply touched and affected the lives of so many people. Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy is an outpouring of the stories and eyewitness accounts of concerts and precious moments experienced by fans and musicians who literally can’t get enough of their music.

And the love and respect for Paul and Simon in these pages is also directed at Paul Kossoff, Andy Fraser, Mick Ralphs, Boz Burrell and many more musicians. They have all contributed to the unique-sounding blues rock that the various bands have performed and recorded so brilliantly over more than half a century. From Paul Rodgers’ Road Runners in the early 60s to his most recent Bad Company and the Free Spirit Tours tours, the quality of the music has remained undiminished. Paul Rodgers is the epitome of the rock god but, as the stories in this book will attest, the most approachable and generous of rock stars. It is no surprise to discover that the loyalty of the fans contributing to this book is so unwavering.

Free Highway

From the Nag’s Head in Battersea to Madison Square in New York City, this is the journey made by Free, Bad Company and the rest and described by the people who were there…

David Roberts is the author of music locations guidebooks Rock Atlas UK and USA and the biography of Stephen Stills: Change Partners. Farther back in time, 

“I am really enjoying it so very much. The anecdotes, stories and memories from fans and the bands are real gems.” Steve Scott

“Beyond excited. Fantastic job!!! I love the layout and all the stories.” Paula Terry

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to open the package and take this beautiful book out and begin reading and looking at pictures. You did an absolutely sensational job on this and I’m sure Paul and Simon are thrilled with the outcome.” Tony Scott

“What a beautiful book this is! Congratulations! It is indeed an honour to be included in the book, and I simply can’t wait to read it!” Jan Ramsey

“I have the special edition. The book is fantastic. It has been written, and put together brilliantly. I love reading the memories of the fans, other bands and music writers. The photos are great too. Thank you so much for a great walk down memory lane.” Christine Killen

Rock N Roll Fantasy

“Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy – The Musical Journey of Free and Bad Company” has been nominated for the 2021 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded
Sound Research.

“Without a doubt, this could well be one of the finest books of 2020!”  Strutter Magazine

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy is, much like the artist it writes about, brilliant.” New Sounds Magazine

Both books come with a handwritten foreword  by both Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke.

The Special Edition is limited to 500 copies only and are individually numbered.

Slip Case Edition comes complete with bonus items including:

  • Replica concert tickets
  • Island Records letter
  • Six previously unpublished photographs
  • Two exclusive artwork prints
  • Queen + Paul Rodgers set list
  •  A numbered certificate of authenticity

Special Edition

See the source image

One of the most important advances in the field rock ‘n’ roll marketing was the invention of the term, “Supergroup. A supergroup is a music group whose members are previously successful as solo artists or as part of other groups or well known in other musical professions.” Most people believe that Cream was the first supergroup, though there is an equally strong argument for The Steampacket, a mid-60’s U. K. band whose members included Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. The term gained popular approval with the release of Super Session, a record marketed to the public as a truly glorious moment in rock history featuring the integrated talents of supermen Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills.

Al Kooper was a so-so organist but a brilliant marketer. After leaving Blood, Sweat and Tears to go to work for Columbia Records, he heard that musical hobo Mike Bloomfield was ready to leave Electric Flag, so he booked two days of studio time to jam with him. When Bloomfield didn’t show up on day two (classic Bloomfield), he called Stills, who was looking for a way out of Buffalo Springfield. When the record was released, Kooper put Bloomfield’s stuff on side one and Stills’ contributions on side two. Bottom line: Bloomfield and Stills never played together in the “super session,” but the listening audience (which included many stoners) was not discouraged from believing that these three musical giants came together to create studio magic.

Bad Company was marketed as supergroup from the get-go, Bad Company had their fare share of detractors when they burst on to the scene in the mid 70s. Ex-Free men Paul Rodgers (vocals) and Simon Kirke (drums) were criticised for following a more commercial path, despite the fact that their former band had enjoyed several hits. Completed by Mick Ralphs (guitar, ex-Mott The Hoople) and Boz Burrell (bass, ex-King Crimson and Snafu), Bad Company had Zeppelin’s Peter Grant as their manager – and the American market in their sights. They struck the bullseye. “Can’t Get Enough” might have had a tasty Top 40 sheen but it was expertly rendered blues rock to the core. None of them were “name” musicians at the time of Bad Company’s formation; they had played in bands who generally familiar to the listening public but hardly top-tier (Burrell’s time with King Crimson came long after In the Court of the Crimson King). All are now more famous for their work in Bad Company than their other engagements, so while the supergroup label may have been prematurely applied at the start of their journey, one could say that they earned the label through their work. They were an enormous commercial success

Supergroups often fall short of their potential, but the four guys who made up Bad Company – originally Free, Mott the Hoople and King Crimson vets – were still young and hungry enough to add some muscle to their debut album. Later records would get more bloated under the strain of their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but ‘Bad Co.’ still sounds lean after all these years.

Even if the song hadn’t dealt with the constant edge of sexual desire, “Can’t Get Enough” would still appear on my playlists because the music is so sexy. After Simon Kirke’s count-in and cue, Mick Ralphs lets it rip with a clean, sustained power chord using open C tuning, riding Kirke’s slap-that-bitch beat before downshifting into the rest of the three-chord pattern that ends on the bite of the Bb-F repetition. That tiny bite feels even sharper because Kirke shifts to cymbals, clearing the way for Mick’s power chords to be heard at full intensity. After a second go-round, Mick and Simon retreat to background to allow Paul Rodgers to do his thing.

Paul Rodgers’ voice gives me the tingles—up and down my spine. Paul Rodgers singing a sex song is an orgasmic experience, Paul Rodgers is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful and intentional singers I’ve ever heard, in any genre. A lot of guys have sexy voices but they fail to discipline the talent with intent. Paul Rodgers pays careful attention to phrasing, understands the critical importance of build and is the master at creating a mood. As he explained in one interview, “To me, that’s what music is: creating a mood, and taking the listener to the place that you’re going. on “Can’t Get Enough” he’s going to drag you to the bedroom and do all sorts of wonderful things to you. The first verse is all about command. Rodgers sings the lines with confidence and precision, making it perfectly clear what he’s after. On the second verse, he eases up slightly on the word at the end of the opening line—“Well, it’s late, and I want love.” That wicked little twist communicates the sweet side of love, the opening salvo in the seduction. It’s a disarming line that makes the clarification all the more erotic: “Love that’s gonna break me in two.” Rodgers gets looser in the second chorus but what really grabs my attention here are the slightly syncopated cuts where Kirke applies the high-hat, this Mick Ralphs composition was rejected by his former band, Mott the Hoople. That means they rejected two Bowie classics (“Suffragette City” and “Drive-In Saturday) and one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs ever!

They had no choice but to dial it down a bit from that killer opener, and the Paul Rodgers composition “Rock Steady” was a good choice—it keeps the intensity high while foregoing the dramatic cuts and pauses of “Can’t Get Enough.” The song is about taming the wild beast who showed up in “Can’t Get Enough,” and though Rodgers tries to convince us that he’s capable of keeping his libido in abeyance, his gritty vocal expresses the opposite. He covers the range of dynamics, attenuating his vocal when telling himself to ease up on the testosterone accelerator (“When my love . . . gets a little bit too heavy”) and breaking into all-out passion when he discovers that there is indeed erotic opportunity in the slow, deep one. Virtually missing on “Can’t Get Enough,” (low bass levels are a problem throughout the album), Boz Burrell provides some nifty bass runs and strong rhythmic support throughout this piece.

“Ready for Love” was a Mick Ralphs composition that appeared on Mott’s All the Young Dudes, and anyone who has heard that version has to conclude that Mick Ralphs was not the right guy for the vocal—this is a passionate, erotic song, and Mick’s thin, reedy voice was incapable of expressing the depths of those feelings. Enter Paul Rodgers, the best rock voice in the business when it comes to setting the mood for an erotic evening at home. The arrangement is much cleaner than the Mott version—the introduction of piano into the mix adds a touch of balancing tenderness to offset the guitar and organ, and its use as the solo instrument in the break reinforces the melancholy psychological state expressed in the opening lines Bad Company gives “Ready for Love” the treatment it always deserved—it really is a superbly written piece.

While the opening segment with its dramatic drum rolls is a bit over the top, this “Don’t Let Me Down” isn’t half bad because it doesn’t wallow in insecurity as much as express dissatisfaction with the current partner. The best parts of the arrangement occur when Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie provide background vocals to support Paul Rodgers’ soulful approach, giving the song a gospel-like feel. The band is far off the mark, though, with Kirke paying way too much attention to the snare and Mick Ralphs dropping in with a fairly weak solo.

We’ll flip it over to side two and explore the curious title track and band anthem, as promised. There are various and competing stories about its origins, including the Jeff Bridges western flick Bad Company and a seedy character Paul Rodgers saw in a book on Victorian morals used as a warning to the young to “beware of bad company.” I have no problems whatsoever with his Rodgers vocal, with his portrayal of the character, with the haunting piano refrain, with the eerie sounds in deep background or with Simon Kirke’s POW-POW that cue the chorus.

The rest of the album is pure filler. The follow-up piece “The Way I Choose” is a slightly lumbering song with a guitar counterpoint somewhat reminiscent of George Harrison’s work on “Don’t Let Me Down” and a supporting horn section that falls far short of soulfulness. Paul Rodgers sings it well but his voice is completely wasted on the shallow lyrics celebrating independence, stupidity and mistrust. It’s followed by the equally vacuous rock-star-whining-about-life-on-the-road song, “Movin’ On,”.

The album closes with what became sort of a tradition for many hard rock bands of the era: the “deep” song. This was a slow number presented in a way to suggest to the listener that hard rockers weren’t just all about fun and games but that they had a serious side and thought about meaningful things. “Seagull” is Bad Company’s “deep” song. The lyrical content is just as confused as that alleged masterpiece, with the songwriting team of Ralphs and Rodgers taking a page out of Donovan’s songwriting handbook and attempting to imbue the seagull with meanings far beyond its status as a nasty, squawky bird. Bad Company is a fairly decent debut album, all things considered. Listening to Paul Rodgers is always an engaging experience, and despite a couple of out-of-sync moments, the band is tight and relatively tight and disciplined for a hard rock band.

Bad Company’s – ‘Can’t Get Enough,” and Honey Child.” This is what a real Rock band sounds like – even after nearly 50 years – with three of the original members: Paul Rodgers, one of a handful of great Rock singers (vocals), Mick Ralphs (guitar) and Simon Kirke (drums) with Howard Leese (guitar (late of Heart). If you want to hear the band at its absolute pinnacle check out Bad Company: Live at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida. It is a masterpiece.

Desolation Angels (40th Anniversary)

In the late summer of 1978, Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell spent several weeks recording songs for the British supergroup’s fifth studio album at Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey, England. “Desolation Angels” – recording their fifth album named after Jack Kerouac’s 1965 novel – was released in March 1979, and became a double-platinum hit, peaking at #3 on the U.S. album charts.

The 1979 album features the single ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy’ and the new deluxe edition features the 2019 remaster (used for The Swan Song Years box set) along with a bonus disc of previously unreleased versions of album tracks and outtakes.

The collection introduced fan favorites like “Evil Wind” and “Rhythm Machine” and spawned two singles: “Gone, Gone, Gone” and “Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy,” which took radio by storm and became the best-selling single of the band’s career. The new double-disc “Desolation Angels”: 40th Anniversary Edition boasts 19 unreleased songs taken from the album’s recording sessions, including versions of seven album tracks as well as outtakes “Smokin’ 45” and “Rock Fever.”

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.

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.

reDiscover ‘Mott The Hoople’

The 1970s heyday of Mott The Hoople is well remembered and reported, and has been in the forefront of their fans’ memories following the sad death of  drummer Dale “Buff” Griffin. Less often recalled are the early albums the band made on the Island Records label, before their departure to CBS, their 1969, self-titled debut LP. Remembered primarily as early 70s rockers that struggled for commercial success until they were saved by David Bowie, who donated to them their most iconic song and convinced them that they could be pop stars if they wanted it enough, the story of Mott the Hoople is considerably more subtle and complex than most realise.

Mott’s geographical origins in Hereford, just 15 miles from the English border with Wales, may have been something of a disadvantage given that the West Country music scene of the mid-1960s was rather less obviously prosperous than those in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

The band came together from the ranks of local outfits the Anchors (Griffin and Peter ‘Overend’ Watts), the Buddies (Mick Ralphs and original vocalist Stan Tippins) and the Inmates (Terence Verden Allen). They coalesced in the Doc Thomas Group, who worked the local clubs in 1966 and ’67 but found more success in Milan, where they even recorded an album for a small label.

Back in the UK, they headed for London and famously auditioned, unsuccessfully, for  The Beatles new Apple label. Then they became the Silence, opened for the still-obscure reggae singer Jimmy Cliff. But some good did come of it, because the Silence were noticed by Guy Stevens, a DJ, A&R man and a flamboyant mover and shaker who was instrumental in the formation of the Island label.

“I was doing eight months for possession of drugs,” Stevens later recalled, “and I read this book called Mott The Hoople by Willard Manus. I wrote to my wife and said ‘Keep the title a secret.’ She wrote back: ‘Are you joking? ‘Mott The Hoople.” That’s ridiculous.”

It may have sounded so, but when he regained his freedom, Stevens managed to persuade the members of the Silence that this would be their new name Although Steven’s signed Silence he had two ultimatums, a change of name for the band, and a change of lead singer in favour of someone with more stage presence. for frontman Tippins, who decamped to Italy to make the best of the band’s popularity there. He returned in the increasingly celebrated and long-lasting role of the later band’s road manager. With extensive auditions. Enter 29 year old Ian Hunter, a veritable veteran of the music scene who’d had a similar lack of luck over the years. He had an odd voice and was perhaps was not what they were looking for visually, but he could write songs and had that undefinable something about him that everyone that they had auditioned before just hadn’t. Stevens signed him up to Mott The Hoople and booked two weeks of studio time in which to produce what became their debut album.

mott-ian

Released in November 1969 on Island in the UK and Atlantic in the US, it was preceded by the single ‘Rock and Roll Queen.’ Stevens sent Mott back to Italy for their first gig under their new name, then they returned for support dates on a UK college tour by the rising King Crimson.

Mott The Hoople showcased the group’s robust, Rolling Stones-influenced rock sound in which Hunter’s Dylanesque vocals and narratives came to the fore, on his own ‘Backsliding Fearlessly,’ songs by Ralphs and some notable covers. The album opened with an instrumental version of the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ and also sported a remake of ‘Laugh At Me,’ the solitary 1965 solo hit by Sonny Bono of Sonny & Cher.

Mott enhanced their reputation with tireless work on the UK live circuit, in venues such as the Roundhouse, the Marquee and local clubs such as the Greyhound in Croydon and Friars in Aylesbury. An extremely modest breakthough was reached when the album spent one week on the chart at No. 66, six months after release, in May 1970.

Far greater recognition would eventually arrive, but Ian Hunter  remembered these as halcyon days. “The buzz was in the air,” he later said. “We were green as grass, not too good, but enthusiastic. It was fun, nothing to lose.”

Hunter was not the only great songwriter that Mott the Hoople had in their ranks. Prior to the Bowie produced “All the Young Dudes” album, guitar player Mick Ralphs was at least co-leader of the band, a capable songwriter in his own right and one of those guitar heroes who stood apart from the rest. Several of the band’s most enduring early rockers were written by Ralphs, with the most impressive being early live favourite “Rock and Roll Queen” from their self-titled debut, and “Thunderbuck Ram” from the band’s dark and moody second album Mad Shadows.

Following the relative failure of Mad Shadows to build on Mott the Hoople’s modest success and a difficult time for Hunter, Ralphs temporarily steered Mott the Hoople away from the influence of Guy Stevens and towards a sound more rooted in country rock for their third album, Wildlife. Despite the evolution of the band’s sound, Wildlife was only just slightly more successful than the band’s first two albums and the standout track was arguably Hunter’s devastatingly emotional “Waterlow”. The failure of Wildlife must have been something of a blow to Ralphs, and follow up album Brain Capers returned Mott the Hoople to the guidance of Guy Stevens and had much more of a collaborative sound and as such returned Hunter once more to the forefront of the band. It still didn’t sell well though.

Thus was Mott the Hoople formed. Over the next five years they would record four studio albums for Island, three for CBS, as well as a live album. They became one of the UK’s most in demand live acts, boasted a dedicated fan base, but for the first few years, that didn’t translate into record sales until the band effectively broke up and bass player Peter ‘Overend’ Watts made a fateful phone call to a rising star known as David Bowie

Joining Mott the Hoople in 1969 in his late 20s was something of a last chance for Ian Hunter to make it in the music industry. He’d been in various bands since the late 50s, but none had delivered the level of success he deserved. On joining Mott the Hoople Guy Stevens advised Hunter to never remove his sunglasses and since then photos of Hunter without sunglasses have been few and far between as they became a trademark that Hunter has retained to this day. Stevens also encouraged Hunter to develop as a songwriter, something which he launched himself into with great relish. Initially stuck behind a piano at the side of the stage, Hunter eventually emerged center stage to become Mott the Hoople’s iconic frontman and one of its primary songwriters, writing some of the band’s greatest songs on their first four albums like “Backsliding Fearlessly”, “Walking With a Mountain” and “The Journey”.

Hunter’s voice has always been an immediately recognisable rasp, part Bob Dylan, part Sonny Bono. Although not a note-perfect vocalist, Hunter could always write a song which suited his vocal style, that you just couldn’t imagine anyone else singing. It was this approach which gave Hunter’s songs an oddly authentic common touch and depth of emotional character – he didn’t seem to come across as your usual unrelatable rock and roll star, he was just a normal guy who happened to be the singer in a rock band. That was Hunter’s great strength and perhaps one of the reasons why, when punk came along Mott the Hoople was one of the few old bands that the British punks would sing the praises of.

When Bowie offered Mott the Hoople “All the Young Dudes”, he also offered to get his manager to lever them out of their record deal with Island, away from the influence of Guy Stevens and produce their next album, which would ultimately be named after their first hit single. Perhaps even more crucially Bowie encouraged Hunter to take sole control over the direction of Mott the Hoople.

Bowie and his management left Mott the Hoople to their own devices having guided them through the transition from becoming hard trying rockers to a more fashionable glam rock sound and Hunter took it upon himself to cement the band’s future and prove that the success of “All the Young Dudes” wasn’t down to Bowie’s involvement alone. Rising to the challenge Hunter wrote a string of glam rock hit singles that became staples of the genre, as well as writing more mature material for the band’s albums.

Mott single

Having finally obtained the success he had craved for so long in his early 30s, it had an interesting effect on Ian Hunter. He didn’t seem to get as easily distracted by the trappings of rock and roll stardom as many of his rock star contemporaries were being, perhaps partly down to the fact that success for him came slightly later in life, so not only did he maybe appreciate it a little bit more, but he was also more wary of the downside of success. As a reaction to it he wrote the rock memoir Diary of a Rock and Roll Star, which recorded life at the rock and roll coal face in often hilariously mundane detail.

After the departure of guitar player Mick Ralphs from the band after the “Mott” album, the pressure was on Hunter as the primary songwriter in the band. Other band members sometimes shared co-writing credits, and sometimes whole songs (Overend Watts’ punky “Born Late 58” being the best), but the spotlight was very much on Hunter and such was the pressure that following the well received The Hoople album, the cracks started to show. Ralph’s replacement Ariel Bender was shown the door in favour of former Spider from Mars Mick Ronson. With the rest of the band having only recently re-calibrated their expectations around Ian Hunter being the creative fulcrum of the band, Ronson’s arrival in the band caused waves and following the brilliant, but only modestly commercially successful “Saturday Gigs”, Hunter quit Mott the Hoople.

Hunter went on to forge a solo career with occasional assistance from Mick Ronson, releasing great albums like his self-titled debut and You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. Hunter had a relatively quiet 1980s, though Barry Manilow’s cover of his song “Ships” did big business. Both Hunter and Ronson were featured as part of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, however Hunter wouldn’t remerge again until after Ronson’s sad passing in 1993, first with his Dirty Laundry album in 1995 and then more notably with The Artful Dodger in 1999, which features Hunter’s heartbreaking eulogy to Ronson, “Michael Picasso”.

Since the start of this century, Hunter has re-established himself as a significant creative force, at first with his well received 2001 album Rant, then with 2007’s Shrunken Heads, 2009’s Man Overboard and 2012’s When I’m President. Hunter remains a well respected and much loved veteran of rock music well into his 70s .

mott6914

A Mott The Hoople concert poster from late 1969

Mott enhanced their reputation with tireless work on the UK live circuit, in venues such as the Roundhouse, the Marquee and local clubs such as the Greyhound in Croydon and Friars in Aylesbury. An extremely modest breakthough was reached when the album spent one week on the chart at No. 66, six months after release, in May 1970.

Far greater recognition would eventually arrive, but Hunter  remembered these as halcyon days. “The buzz was in the air,” he later said. “We were green as grass, not too good, but enthusiastic. It was fun, nothing to lose.”

For their first four albums, Mott the Hoople were a great rock band trying to find their way, but that’s not to mean that they didn’t produce any good material during this period of their career. There’s an embarrassment of riches on their Island albums and it is not for want of trying that they failed to connect with a large audience. From driving hard rock riffs and extended jams, to beautifully reflective acoustic ballads and country rock, Mott the Hoople were a curiously flexible and adaptable act that pleased their live audience, but for whatever reason they just didn’t sell the amount of albums that they deserved to.

 

While their commercial fortunes swung dramatically throughout Mott the Hoople’s career, their reputation as a crowd-pleasing live act remained throughout. While on album and single, the listener could be forgiven for assuming that drummer Buffin Griffin, organ player Verden Allen and Overend Watts were little more than talented sidesmen, on the live stage there was no arguing with the fact that on the live stage, each member of the band were given space to make their mark on their audience.

mott-trees

FIRST LISTEN: BAD COMPANY - RUN WITH THE PACK & BURNING SKY

We’re gearing up to run with the pack, the Bad Company pack that is! We’ve got a pair of deluxe editions of the bands “Run With The Pack” and “Burnin’ Sky” coming down the line this May. Both feature the remastered original album along with rare and unreleased recordings like this previously unissued version of “Young Blood” (Alternate Version 2) recorded in Grasse, France and engineered by Ron Nevison (Led Zeppelin, UFO, Hear) and “Morning Sun” (Take 3, Early Version) recorded by Chris Kimsey at Le Chateau Studios, Herouville, France, in the summer of 1976.

Bad Company recorded four classic albums in as many years, giving rise to some of the most recognisable rock songs of the seventies, like “Rock Steady”, “Run With The Pack” and the who can forget the date night favourite “Feel Like Makin’ Love”.

After releasing expanded and remastered versions of their first two albums a couple of years ago, the band have announced the May 26th release of souped-up deluxe editions of their next two albums from that incredible run – 1976’s Run With The Pack and 1977’s Burnin Sky . Both albums have been remastered from the original production tapes and expanded with rare and unreleased recordings taken from the original album sessions. For fans, there is plenty that they will not have heard before.

During a rare break from touring, Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell got together in France to record new songs using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio. Those sessions produced Run With The Pack, a 10-song album that came out in early 1976 in America, where it sold three million copies. Radio stations pumped out the title track along with a cover of The Coasters’ “Young Blood”, while “Silver, Blue & Gold” became one of the band’s signature tracks, even though it was never officially released as a single.

The bonus disc that accompanies “Run With The Pack” Deluxe Edition includes unreleased early mixes for “Honey Child” and “Simple Man”, as well as an extended version of the title track. There’s also the previously unreleased “Let There Be Love”, an outtake from the recording sessions. In fact, the acoustic version of “Do Right By Your Woman”, previously only available as the B-Side of the single release of Run With The Pack, is the only song on the bonus disc that has ever been previously released.

During 1976, the band returned to France again to record 12 songs for what would become Burnin’ Sky. They chose Château d’Hérouville as the studio, which is where David Bowie would record Low later that same year. Burnin’ Sky was released in March 1977, and broke into the Top 20 in both the U.K. and U.S.

The “Burnin’ Sky – Deluxe Edition bonus disc features unreleased versions of nearly every song on the album, including alternative takes and mixes of “Man Needs A Woman” and “Morning Sun”, plus the full version of “Too Bad”. The session tapes also unearthed “Unfinished Story”, a song that was completed, but never released.

The CD versions of these Deluxe Editions each have a second disc of new bonus tracks, while their vinyl counterparts offer a selection of the bonus material.

Bad Company Live 1977 And 1979 Album Cover

English hard rockers, Bad Company’s live concerts rivalled some of the best, bringing primal, menacing riffs with shades of light and dark. Their “Live In Concert 1977 &1979” is stacked with classic gems in the two-and-half hours of music, taken from two concerts – The Summit in Houston, Texas on May 23rd, 1977 and the almighty Wembley Arena in London on March 9th, 1979. This is the kind of set that would inspire an arena full of people to spark their lighters and sway as one.

You’re listening to tracks off of Bad Company’s album, ‘Live In Concert 1977 & 1979’. The first-ever official live album to spotlight the original Bad Company line up: Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell is out April 29th. This archive collection includes more than two-and-half hours of unreleased music taken from 24-track tapes in Bad Company’s vault. The music heard on this live collection features absolutely no enhancements or overdubs — nothing but the band as they performed live on the night of the concert.

Formed out of the ashes of British blues-rockers Free, Bad Company saw singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke unite with Mott The Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell to form a hard rock supergroup that released classic albums in the shape of 1974’s Bad Company and the following year’s Straight Shooter. They now continue to tour, maintaining their reputation as one of the finest live acts on the circuit.

Amazingly, however, they are only just getting round to releasing a live album that features their classic original line-up. Live 1977 & 1979 is a double-disc set that features two entire concerts taken from the band’s original 24-track tapes and faithfully represented with no overdubs or additional enhancements added to what was captured in the moment.

Due for separate vinyl releases later in the year, Live 1977 & 1979 presents an entire show from Houston, Texas, on 23rd May 1977, and a show captured in London on 9th March 1979 (with the inclusion of a single track taken from Washington, DC, on 26 June 1979).

The full tracklisting is:

CD1 (The Summit, Houston, Texas, 23 May 1977)
‘Burnin’ Sky’
‘Too Bad’
‘Ready For Love’
‘Heartbeat’
‘Morning Sun’
‘Man Needs Woman’
‘Leaving You’
‘Shooting Star’
‘Simple Man’
‘Movin’ On’
‘Like Water’
‘Live For The Music’
‘Drum Solo’
‘Good Lovin’ Gone Bad’
‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’

CD 2 (The Empire Pool, Wembley, London, 9 March 1979)
‘Bad Company’
‘Gone, Gone, Gone’
‘Shooting Star’
‘Rhythm Machine’
‘Oh, Atlanta’
‘She Brings Me Love’
‘Run With The Pack’
‘Evil Wind’
‘Drum Solo’
‘Honey Child’
‘Rock Steady’
‘Rock’n’Roll Fantasy’
‘Hey Joe’ [from Capital Center, Washington, DC, 26 June 1979]
‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’
‘Can’t Get Enough’

Bad Company… Great Gigs

Deluxe 2CD editions of ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Straight Shooter’ are available from Monday 6th April.

Both albums have been re-mastered form original tapes each set features bonus disc of rare and unreleased recordings. Formed in 1973, the British hard rock outfit Bad Company was a supergroup comprised of ex-King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, and singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke, both previous members of Free. Powered by Rodgers’ muscular vocals and Ralphs’ blues-based guitar work, Bad Company was the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song vanity label.

Bad Company’s eponymous 1974 debut was an international hit, topping the U.S. album charts and scoring with the number one single “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” The second disc of the Deluxe Edition features 12 tracks, including eight previously unreleased recordings such as the demo for the ballad “The Way I Choose,” a take of “Bad Company” recorded right before the album version, and an unedited version of “Superstar Woman,” a song that Rodgers later recorded in 1983 for his solo album Cut Loose. Also featured is the single edit of “Can’t Get Enough,” and the B-sides “Little Miss Fortune” and “Easy On My Soul.”

Bad Company has helped shaped the sound of an entire rock era with iconic powerhouse rock anthems and popular ballads. Having unearthed the original multi-track tapes and discovered previously unreleased tracks, takes, and mixes the band has remastered their first two albums to create new Deluxe Editions.

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rodgers, along with guitarist/songwriter Mick Ralphs, bassist Boz Burrell, and drummer Simon Kirke released the band’s second album Straight Shooter in April 1975, 40 years to the month of the new deluxe edition. The album features the hit singles “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” as well as the rock radio staple “Shooting Star.”

Of the 14 bonus tracks, all are previously unreleased except the B-side “Whiskey Bottle.” Among the standouts is a stripped-down version of “Shooting Star,” a remix of “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” with alternative guitar and vocals tracks, as well as two lost gems, never released before: “See The Sunlight” and “All Night Long.”

NEWS: On tomorrow’s Classic Rock Magazine show, Nicky Horne speaks to Bad Company‘s Mick Ralphs about the band’s history. Find out more here:http://goo.gl/ML1KcS