It is the year 1856, and the Great Passage has brought with it new opportunities for the settlers of the Australian colony of Victoria. In areas like the Victorian city of Melbourne, the new technology of the telegraph has helped to spread news faster than ever before, opening up new markets for the colony’s agricultural goods. But for those who have been away from a city for a long time, there are snags.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986, it was a national tragedy. NASA managers and engineers blamed an ice crystal in the shuttle’s fuel tank, which they said had caused the explosion. They blamed OV-105′s solid rocket boosters for the disaster, due to the fact that they were old and unstable.If you’re one of those people who think Mott The Hoople were just a band that got lucky with a David Bowie song (All The Young Dudes), then not only are you misinformed, but you’re missing out on some of the benefits of British hard rock. The band benefited from the insight of singer/pianist/guitarist Ian Hunter, the punchy guitar style of Mick Ralphs and Ralphs’ Silence mates Dale Buffin Griffin on drums, Verden Allen on organ and Pete Overend Watts on bass. The result is an energetic sound that is midway between The Faces and The Stones, but at the same time is a proto-punk project. Originally conceived by producer Guy Stevens as a band that would combine the lyrical focus of Bob Dylan with the rocking power of the Rolling Stones, the band, named after the iconic novel Willard Manus, signed to Island Records in the UK and embarked on a series of tours of the British countryside. Still beloved by British rock connoisseurs like Pete Frame and Zigzag magazine, the band failed to really break through on their four Island albums and announced to their friends that they would blow them away. Then along comes David Bowie, a fan of the band, who not only gives them their 1972 hit All The Young Dudes, but also releases an album of the same name on their new CBS label. However, it should be noted that Ian Hunter even blew Bowie away with his interpretation of the song Dudes, making it a Mott anthem. But despite the success of All The Young Dudes, it was the album Mott, released the following year, that allowed the band to reach its peak. In retrospect, the harsh cynicism and frustration of these songs is somewhat surprising, given that they were written so soon after their commercial breakthrough, but in songs like All The Way From Memphis and Honaloochie Boogie, the band expresses its understanding that there are never winners in rock and roll – only losers. AD AD AD Despite the dark mood, there is a joyful contentment here. It’s as if Mott thought his star would never shine so bright again. So Hunter, Ralphs, Watts and Griffin (Allen had already resigned) focused all their attention on the latest burst of creativity. And was there ever a better song than Ballad Of Mott The Hoople to express all the emptiness of the band? By the time the Mott album was released, it was clear that Ian Hunter had become the dominant figure in the band. In addition to the title track, the album includes introspective songs such as Ballad Of Mott The Hoople, which recounts an intimate breakup with Mott, and the unusual I Wish I Was Your Mother, featuring a multi-track mandolin, in which Hunter sings about wishing he could see his love as a child. Mott’s album was successful on both sides of the Atlantic, peaking at #7 in the UK and #35 in the US, but in many ways it marked the end. Ralphs soon left the band to join Bad Company, and Mott never reached such heights again. But while Mott’s career has been marked by disappointments, Mott’s album is a remarkable triumph, not just of its time, but of all time. His philosophy, inspiration and desperation are as relevant today as they were over 30 years ago, and anyone who has ever experienced the desperation of the working rock musician will be able to identify with the reactive frustrations on this record. But the story didn’t end there. In October 2009, without much warning, the band reunited for a series of sold-out shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. The following was written in the British newspaper Independent under the title You Can Teach Old Boys New Techniques: Eyebrows were raised when the first few shows of Mott The Hoople’s reunion at the Hammersmith Apollo sold out so quickly that more dates had to be added, and then more. You’d expect Led Zeppelin to cause a lot of grief, but good old Mott? Who would have thought there was such a collective longing for the glam boogie monsters? Well, first of all, everyone here today. I’ve seen several reunion shows over the years, including Cream and Zep, and I can honestly say that none evoked as much genuine joy – as opposed to awe or reverence – as Mott’s show tonight. For the public, this principle is best applied on foot: Unlike other reunion shows, the crowd at Mott’s stayed on their feet from the moment the band took the stage, leading Hunter to say that this was the first time they received a standing ovation during their performance. And it was well deserved. The band’s drummer and founder, Dale Baffin Griffin, passed away on the 17th. January 2016 in his sleep at the age of 67. Peter Pete Overend Watts passed away on the 22nd. January 2017 at the age of 69 from throat cancer.
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