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The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

Fri Mar 8, 10-11pm, BBC4

There’s Spinal Tap-related fun aplenty in this melancholy-going-on-morose rockumentary about 1970s rockers Mott the Hoople. ‘The energy level was 11!’ says producer Andy Johns, with just a hint of knowingess. Their control-freak svengali (and future Clash producer) Guy Stevens almost went mad. They went through guitarists (one of them used the stage name Ariel Bender) much like Tufnel and St Hubbins did drummers. And, on recalling the band’s brief, doomed collaboration with former David Bowie sideman Mick Ronson, Mott drummer Dale Griffin comments that ‘we thought he was the Messiah. The guitar Messiah, certainly…’.

Meat-and-potatoes rockers with a vaguely Dylanesque bent, they hit the big time thanks to Bowie gifting them ‘All the Young Dudes’. They enjoyed a subsequent string of hits, then imploded – all within five years. This dogged doc rounds up all the major players, but never adequately explains why the band aquired such a rabidly devoted following. Not quite fans only, but only a curio for non-believers.



Not seen the doc yet so it may be covered. But Mick Jones and co - future members and cohorts of The Clash - were a loyal following of Mott on the early 70s gig circuit. Indicates the importance of the band in influencing the future direction of music. Tend to feel that the glam period is criminally overlooked in its influence of punk.


The rabid following is an easy one. In a time of sickening pop and deep 'yeah man' musical excess, Mott kept the spirit of rock and roll alive. The only band Queen ever supported and the only live band Led Zeppelin were worried about. It's all too easy to cast them as Bowie prodigies these days, but it is hard to imagine British punk rock being around without their influence.