Their self-titled debut begins with a raucous instrumental cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”, with Mick Ralphs’ wah-wah taking the lead. That gives an idea of their power and volume, but it’s the next track (another cover) that demonstrates the template. “At The Crossroads” was originally recorded a few months earlier by the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Mott’s version uses the same template of guitar, bass, drums, piano and organ, with Ian Hunter’s drawl giving away shades of Dylan. It’s even more apparent on “Laugh At Me”, which had been Sonny Bono’s first solo hit; it starts tentatively and builds to a two-chord frenzy over six minutes, with voices chanting the band’s name a la the “woo-woo”s on “Sympathy For The Devil”. “Backsliding Fearlessly”, the first original song here, solidifies what we’re hearing: Blonde On Blonde crossed with Jimmy Miller’s Stones productions.
The Stones sound comes forward on “Rock And Roll Queen”, and may well have been an influence on “Bitch”. “Rabbit Foot And Toby Time” is a basic two-minute jam that bursts into “Half Moon Bay”, another lengthy variation on side one’s themes (piano arpeggios in 6/8) until about halfway through where it turns into a pseudo-classical fugue. This is why some say the band’s dual keyboards are more reminiscent of Procol Harum, another band named by producer Guy Stevens. Once that’s out of the way, it’s back to the original theme, played eternally through the fade. Finally, “Wrath And Roll” presents the last two minutes of the jam begun in “You Really Got Me”, ending with glorious cacophony.
Mott The Hoople doesn’t have a lot of variety, but sometimes rock ‘n roll has to be boneheadedly simple. If you need something complex, stare all you like at the Escher print used on the cover.
Mott The Hoople Mott The Hoople (1969)—3½