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The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

The Ballad of Mott the Hoople

Fri Mar 8, 10-11pm, BBC4

By Gabriel Tate
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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.
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