Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mott The Hoople 3: Wildlife

Suggesting a sojourn in the country, a title like Wildlife would have us think this is a gentler Mott The Hoople, from the straightforward “boys outside” photo to a predominant acoustic guitar on several tracks. And are those zodiac symbols next to their names on the back cover? Not as immediately heavy as the first two albums were, probably due to working without producer Guy Stevens, it’s managed to go unnoticed, despite some gems.
They’re still a band at this point, as Mick Ralphs gets the first vocal on “Whisky Women”, which several have said predicts Bad Company. Despite those acoustic strums, there’s still plenty of lead and that overloaded organ. Ian Hunter provides the sleepy “Angel Of Eighth Ave.”, and Mick comes back for “Wrong Side Of The River”, which is even sleepier, but there’s some great interplay in the stops and starts. “Waterlow” might take things a little far, a cracked vocal lamenting “blue broken tears” over piano and weepy strings, but Ian manages to redeem himself with a powerful take on “Lay Down”, Melanie’s super-hit song about Woodstock.
The album gets even weirder on side two with “It Must Be Love”, where a pedal steel keeps up the country pace, and a chorus that mostly repeats the word “love”. Ian can’t pick up the energy for “Original Mixed-Up Kid”, which is probably why Mick is back to declare why “Home Is Where I Want To Be”. The band must have known that a lightweight collection of seesawing songs from these guys wasn’t going to fly, so the set ends with an extremely loud and pounding live performance of Little Richard’s “Keep A’Knockin’” that runs through “Mean Woman Blues” and “What’d I Say”, strangely attributed to Jerry Lee Lewis.
So while Wildlife is a little disjointed, and there’s too much Mick and not enough Ian, it’s not a bad album, per se. At least it’s paced well.

Mott The Hoople Wildlife (1971)—3

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