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Mott The Hoople - The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 10 / 11 / 2011

Mott The Hoople - The Ballad of Mott the Hoople
Label: Start Productions
Format: DVD


Fascinating DVD documentary film about 70's band Mott the Hoople, which will appeal to anyone with an interest in British rock

It’s easy to forget now, but back in the early 1970s Mott the Hoople were genuine, bona fide, cast iron, gold plated rock and roll stars. Lead singer Ian Hunter’s diary, the not-entirely modestly titled 'Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star', which he wrote on tour with Mott in 1972, chronicles the band from the inside, and has long been regarded as one of the great books of British rock music. But 'The Ballad of Mott the Hoople', a new documentary, tells the story from the outside, with help from the remaining people of the time and an interesting cast of fans including Mick Jones of the Clash and Queen’s Roger Taylor. The DVD comes with a few rather nice postcards and a little booklet, the highlight of which is two pages of liner notes by Mott fan Morrissey. The documentary is surprisingly good. It’s not narrated – instead the story is told by the participants and fans, from Hunter himself and the rest of the band to founding father Guy Stevens of Island Records. It’s very honest, and the band are under no illusions about their brief but big success and why the band fell apart not very long after they hit the big time. The music, interspersed throughout, is good, and there’s a great mix of fascinating archive footage, old interviews and brand new interviews. Admittedly, the whole thing is of more interest to fans than to the rest of us, but to people unfamiliar with Mott it’s a great way to find out what all the shouting was about. One big name – David Bowie – is missing, but that’s no surprise. Still, he’s present for parts of the film through others’ words, and his involvement with the band, and their subsequent need to escape from beneath his shadow, provide some interesting moments. It’s rounded off with some good DVD extras such as a few tracks – and more interviews – from the band’s 2009 reunion gig at Hammersmith Apollo, and a few shorter film. One chronicles the remarkable journey the band had to pull off to get to a gig in Memphis and in another interesting one Mott’s organist Verden Allen gives us a tour of some London landmarks connected with the band. Though Mott the Hoople were reportedly one of the influences behind Spinal Tap, this is no mockumentary. It’s respectful of and interested in its subject, but thorough and pulling no punches despite that. Of course it is a fascinating package for Mott fans, but it’s certainly worth watching if you have any interest in British rock.

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The Image That Made Me Weep (2020)
Mott The Hoople - The Image That Made Me Weep
As part of our series 'The Image That Made Me Weep', we are inviting a different guest with each edition to write of a music photograph that has had an impact on them. Idiot Son frontman Andy Thompson writes of a 2009 Mott The Hoople reunion gig and a photograph from his own collection.


Photoscapes (2019)
Mott The Hoople - Photoscapes
Andrew Twambley photographs the reformed 1974 line-up of Mott The Hoople on the opening night of a UK tour at the Manchester Academy.

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