If someone'd asked me what's my fave Ian Hunter's song, I'd answer withouth any hesitation "Shallow Crystals", even if it's on a weak album (Overnight Angels) and somewhat altered by the awful production of Roy Thomas Baker (if he could have stayed Mister Queen it would have been great). Even Ian Hunter, who regrets to have recorded this album (although songs are rather good, but he sings them too high and the production is more pretentious than you could imagine, even more than the Queen one) says that it's a great song. I'm surprised he so rarely sang it afterwards since the text seems one of his most autobiographical and intimate. It's about a mother who seemed to be so cool that she destroyed the members of her family. Not a usual way to revisit negatively his education. All this is written it seems, by a son who sees her growing old and tired, maybe dying. And he's full of bitter words for her and recriminates her past attitude. The melody, music and arrangements (he really worked hard with Earl Slick on the guitar parts he admitted) make this song one of the peaks of his career, one of my all-time favorite songs since it was released in 1977, even if at the time, my musical preoccupations were far from Ian Hunter's world. Since he never released it anywhere else than on the album, I decided to create one of my (quite stupid I know) fake singles, putting the other great song of the album, "Ballad of Little Star" on B-side. For the sleeve, I chose pictures of Hans Bellmer puppets that seem to me the perfect visual equivalent of these songs. You see I'm a sickened mind. Enjoy it here.
Shallow Crystals. Her life gets smaller in his eyes And he wonders if he thinks he should cry Oh mother the colour's gone and left your hair And he wonders if he thinks he should care She told him how to play a guitar She told him how to be a star But mother were you really there My friend don't speak he's such a mixed up boy I wonder if she sold him his toys A kiss on the cheek a conversation decoy In his cute little corduroys Oh she taught him how to win the game She taught him everything is your name Oh mother did you have to destroy Mother if you really cared You'd talk to him cry for him All you every did was dream All you ever said was be cool be cool be cool And I think you made a mess of his life And I think he made a mess of your life And I think it made a mess of my life Mother if you really cared You'd talk to him cry for him All you every did was dream All you ever said was be cool be cool be cool And I think you made a mess of her life And I think she made a mess of your life And I think it made a mess of my life I think you made a mess of my life I think you made a mess of my life
This is not the real "Saturday Gigs" single but what should have been the "Saturday Gigs" single. Actually, the band had changed since "Foxy Foxy". Ariel Bender had left and was replaced by Mick Ronson, yes, THE GREAT Mick Ronson. But the transplant will not take, the rest of the band complaining about Mick Ronson's behavior, quite distant and only talking with Ian Hunter such as it seemed that Mott The Hoople was only the vehicle for a Hunter-Ronson duo. However, they rehearsed and recorded some tracks among which "Saturday Gigs" and "Lounge Lizard". In fact, "Saturday Gigs" was recorded with Ariel Bender under the name of "Saturday Kids" and Ronson added his guitar on the final version whereas "Lounge Lizard" was recorded with Ronson. But the latter did not feature on the single cos Ian Hunter apparently refused, wanting a live track (actually a medley with "Jerkin' Crocus, Sucker & Violence") for a reason I can't explain except maybe to put this song on his first solo LP (that'll be the case). So here it is the version that could have been. That would have made a great single. Of course "Saturday Gigs" is a marvellous song, the story of the highs and lows of the band in 4 min and the announce of the end of Mott as a band, maybe less chart-able than than the band was thinking but now a cult one (see below the videos of the original one and the version of Ian Hunter last year). "Lounge Lizard" is also a great one, and I wonder if I do not prefer the Mott version than the Hunter-Ronson one recorded some months later after Mott disbanded. Enjoy it here. PS. Yes I've changed the sleeve and removed the Live medley for "Lounge Lizard".
Saturday Gigs. Sixty-nine was cheapo wine,Have a good time,What your sign? Float up to the Roundhouse On a Sunday afternoon. In Seventy we all agreed A King's Road flat was the place to be 'Cause Chelsea girls are the best in the world for company. In Seventy-one all the people come Bust a few seats but it's just in fun Take the Mick out of Top of the Pops We play better than they do (yeah, yeah, yeah) In Seventy-two we was born to lose We slipped down snakes into yesterday's news I was ready to quit But then we went to Croydon Do you remember the Saturday gigs? We do, we do Do you remember the Saturday gigs? We do, we do The tickets for the fantasy were twelve and six a time A fairy tale on sale Oh, Seventy-three was a jambouree We were the dudes and the dudes were we. (oh oh oh oh oh) Did you see the suits and the platform boots? (oh dear, oh boy, ...) In Seventy-four on the Broadway tour We didn't much like dressing up no more Don't wanna be hip - but thanks for a great trip. Do you remember the Saturday gigs? We do, we do Do you remember the Saturday gigs? We do, we do But now the kids pay a couple of quid 'Cause they need it just the same It's all a game A grown-up game But you got off on those Saturday gigs And we did, we did 'Cause you got off on those Saturday gigs And we did, we did Don't you ever forget us We'll never forget you We're going to sleep now You better be good, right? (ha ha ha) See you next time [...?] So long for now
Let's be optimistic (yes folks, I'll try this time, it's Easter after all, the resurection of the Christ). All love stories don't turn as bitter jokes and end as buried cadavers in the back of our mind like in the back of our gardens. Some cross the decades and only death can separate the lovers. This is one of them that Ian Hunter had the chance (and the talent cos it's quite a talent to keep alive a love story) to live since for more than 36 years now, he's still with Trudi (at least I believe but I can be wrong, if it's the case, don't hesitate to tell in comments). And the B-side of this single is the one he tells how it's good to be loved this way. A really simple and wonderful song driven from The Hoople LP. On A-side, it was, unusually, a non-LP track, once again a Spectorian song (the way Roy Wood did it with Wizzard). Not a great achievement. Released in June 1974 (3 months after "The Golden Age of Rock 'n Roll") it was surely supposed to candidate for the summer hit but it was a miss (only 33 in the charts). This was a sign of the cul-de-sac in which was going the band at the time. And the dawn was on the horizon. Anyway, give it a try here.
Sorry, no video from the band playing any of these 2 songs on TV or live.
Trudi's Song. She doesn't have to say - she only has to look I think she sees Through me - reads me like a book And I'm in love with her, and she's in love with me And the love goes sailin' on - across the stormy seas. Mmmmm, I got my babe, Mmmmm, I got my babe, She's a right-on child, she goes smilin' Sometimes I go over the line, she has to bring me down, And the pride pulls heavy, makes some evil sounds. But I'm in love with her, and she's in love with me And the sea runs calmer now, I kiss the love that sleeps. Mmmm, I got my babe, Mmmm I got my babe,She's a right-on child, she goes smilin' Mmmm, I got my babe, Mmmm I got my babe
Mott The Hoople - Roll Away The Stone / Where Do You Come From / Through The Looking Glass 7" (1974)
Why a single with 3 songs? Because this single was released 6 months apart with 2 different B-sides. The first version in November 1973 (in UK, reaching n°8 in the charts) with a non-album track called "Where Do You Come From", a Stones-backing-Dylan song, the way Ian Hunter likes it, not a great one, but an interesting track. The second version (US one that did not chart) was backed with one of the best songs ever written and sung by Ian Hunter but also in the whole music history, "Through The Looking Glass", a mix between the Kinks "Sitting In My Hotel" and David Bowie's "Bewlay Brothers". Can't listen to it for the last 36 years without shivering like a naked child lost in a cold night. This is from this song that is derived the name of a monthly paper I write in Xroads (you remember it's a French rock magazine) and called Diar(rh)y. A song beginning by " I'm feelin' ugly - I'm feelin low" could not be something else than my fave song. I don't think Ray Davies, Lou Reed, Bowie, Hammill, Steve Harley or anyone else has done a song being both so somptuous and intimate. The A-side was a bubble gum melody in the Roy Wood vein (or in other words the Spector one), not a great one, but that puts some light in the grey of the days. Enjoy it here.
Through the Looking Glass. I'm feelin' ugly - I'm feelin low - mornin' mirror - you ain't no rose And did I mean it - or did I lie - or did I dream it - Oh! Christ I'm tired. Why then did ya have to grin, now the blood rolls down my chin - Oh You know you painted so much blue, and I'm much younger than that too Oh mirror - what did I do to you? You're my voyeur - see every line - chase them to destinations - On through time And you're my diary - yeah, the bitter truth - unexpurgated - a mis-spent youth, oh - Do you have to paint teeth green, when they're snowy, white and clean? Do you have to make eyes red, when they're clear and fresh instead? - Oh mirror, I wish you'd lose your head - Sometimes I'm on a gig, and I'm feeling kinda good I run and look at you, just like a pop star would But you just glare at me with those dark accusing eyes That say My make-up's good... I'd like to.... I'd like so much to.... - Oh I'll never look at you again - 'cause I'm really not that vain - Seven years bad luck ain't that long - before I smash you, hear my song - Oh mirror, I'm sorry you were wrong.
Below is the Mott TV appearance on Top of the Pops in 1973. They had quite the look I think. And seeing Ian Hunter is always a pleasure. But before a nice video done for "Through the Looking Glass".
This single was released with The Hoople LP in march 1974, the first Mott The Hoople without Mick Ralphs on guitar (gone to form Bad Company with Paul Rodgers, an apparent good idea that turned in a bad affair musically) and it was clear that Ian Hunter had taken the commands of the team, for my greatest pleasure I must say. Ariel Bender, previously known under the patronym of Luther Grosvenor, took up the guitar job and honestly I always thought his style was better for the band than the Ralphs more Rolling Ston-y one. But I know I'm not representing the majority. Anyway, this first single was contrasted, with a tribute to Rock 'n Roll on A-side, a good song but not really the Mott I prefer, and a moving Procol-Harum-backs-Dylan-like song called "Rest In Peace", and a nice companion to "Rose" (listen and dl the latter here). The text is not so dark and down that the music and the title suggest but all in all, it's not all joy and happiness. Both "Rose" and "Rest In Peace" will feature on the Live album that will be released at the end of 1974, and still feature in the Ian Hunter sets, showing that they were not fillers but classic Hoople ones. I did not create a cover sleeve, having no nice picture to put and maybe it's not such a good idea to create cover sleeves for singles that got one (all the single sleeves across the world I have found are in the rar file). Enjoy here.
Rest in Peace. Oh if my wheel could take another turn And if my life replaced itself again, I wouldn't want a single thing to change. Oh it's been good, though it's been strange. And if my dreams were willing to come true, Oh i would not even try to let them through. I'm sure there's things i've missed, that others preached. The goals they reached, they weren't for me. Rest in peace, Even though the worries seem to mount, Don't let them count. Rest in peace. Throw all those smiles and paper miles away. You make willow pattern pictures through the rain. And swallow when your heart begins to breathe, Just like a bird, do what it please. 'cause i ain't gonna be here all that long And when i'm old i want to know i sung. If there's a road ahead, i'll jump right in. Just got to win, this is my hymn. Rest in peace, Even though your worries seem to mount, Don't let them count. Rest in peace.
The promo video can be seen here (don't know why the integrated tool was desactivated). Below is their playback at Top of the Pops in 1974 (superb high quality because from a BBC4 show broadcasted last year). Ian had the class I must say, what I call a Rock 'n Roll look.
1973 & 74 were Mott years. This band summarized all that we loved in the glam movement at the times. They succeeded in mixing a real heavy, dirty and thick rock sound with the glam sophistication. Ian Hunter seemed the real unreaching star for us. But we did not know that it would not last long and that in 1975 all this would be an old souvenir (and now history with its nostalgic bandwagon). In each single, the band was nice enough to put a non-album song, and often it was a gem, sometimes quite different from what the band was known for. And its the case with this single, in which "Honaloochie Boogie" (the single following "All The Young Dudes" in UK and released in May 1973 and reaching n°12 in this country) was backed with a miraculously delicate and moving song called "Rose" It's quite clear reading the lyrics that Ian Hunter is more than sad to see a girl drowning in dope and here it's more like a paternal than a rock star song. There was a fabulous live version of this song on Mott Live one year later. It's for this talent to reach our soul so deep inside than I loved (and still respect) Ian Hunter. Only Alex Harvey and Steve Harley would have this genious. Neither Bowie, Bolan, Ferry or the Mael brothers could compete. As you guessed, it's not the original cover sleeve above but a fascinating Sally Mann picture from her Immediate Family series (taken between 1984 and 1991 so not relevant to the single I must admit) and that I find to perfectly fit with this 7". Let's have a thought for all the Rose throughout the world and the decades that lost their youth and their life in this awful dope cul-de-sac. Enjoy it here.
Rose. It ain't so long ago since we were just two kids Remember well memories we all hid But you're much older now, although you still are young I know you well, I'm like you Hey Rose, you're finer than you know Why hang around with clothes of another name Hair so dyed she lost too much inside Ain't nothing left to hide in the game Hey Rose, how do you laugh in your own show Try to fight the fears that rise within Rock 'n' roll slag, oh my, you're such a drag Trying to find the corner to inject Hey Rose, so silently she goes Careful not to make up, see your maker Hey Rose, how do you laugh when she's on show Try to fight the fears that rise withinHey, rock 'n' roll slag, oh oh, you're such a drag Trying to find the corner to inject Hey Rose, you're finer than you know And I hate to see you cold on a summer day
This song was released on a single in july 1978 (at least that's what's written in the Great Rock Discography of Martin Strong), that means 1 year after the deceiving Overnight Angels LP. It sure has been recorded with the same team, and in particular, the rather boring Roy Thomas Baker (Mr Queen) producer, who really salvaged the songs (some of them great) of this album. It could not be worse since in 1977 the sound was more garage than symphonic and Ian Hunter paid an heavy tribute to this mistake, having to wait for Mick Jones from the Clash 2 years later (ie., one after this single) to release a new album. On this later one, "England Rocks" had been changed again for "Cleveland Rocks" (apparently its working title), but this is the same song. It's interesting to compare the two, the England's one still belonging to the glam world whereas the Cleveland one is much more the feet in the Springsteen fields (but Ian Hunter will always be more exciting than the so-called boss). In the England one, the references to punk are clear (more ironic than enthusiastic) whereas they're none in the Cleveland one. This song has only been released on some Ian Hunter compilations and as a bonus track of the Overnight Angels CD reissue, so it fits perfectly with the aim of this blog. Sorry for the sleeve, which is ugly, but this was the original one it seems (cos I don't own this single and never saw it, in 1978, I had other preoccupations). Enjoy the 7" here.
England Rocks. Energy calling me, back where I came from It's such a crude attitude, it's back where it belongs All the little chicks with the crimson lips go England Rocks, England Rocks She's living in sin with a safety pin England Rocks, England Rocks (etc) Momma knows but she don't care, she got her worries too Seven kids and a phoney affair, and the rent is due All the little kids growing up on the skids Going England Rocks, England Rocks American dreams, moody James Deans Going England Rocks, England Rocks England Rocks, England Rocks I got some badges from World War II I wear 'em just like my Granddad do He was a villain and I am too Oh England Rocks, England Rocks So grab a place, find a space And yell and scream for more England Rocks, England Rocks England Rocks, England Rocks (to fade)