Posts Tagged ‘Mick Ralphs’

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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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.

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.

Get your copy here: http://smarturl.it/badcolive7779

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.

Bad Company Live 1977 And 1979 Album Cover

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