Friday, August 16, 2013

Mott The Hoople "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert 1973" (Bonus Video Friday)

I loved Mott The Hoople from the first moment I laid eyes on them, June 13th, 1970, at the Cincinnati Pop Festival, exactly one week after I graduated from high school.  They played great, they rocked like motherfuckers and they just dressed so cool.  Certainly nothing like their later Bowie-influenced glam days (circa the accompanying video), but with a hearty helping of black leather and flash boots & shirts they made their de rigeur t-shirts, bell-bottoms & checked flannel-shirt sporting rock & roll brethren look like the retro prats they were that Saturday afternoon in 1970.  Mott The Hoople were certainly not hippies.  And they didn't just play, they performed.  Ian Hunter was a true rock & roll madman from the first notes, deploying a total Jerry Lee Lewis/Little Richard-destructo rock routine - playing piano behind his back, pushing it over and playing from the other side, pulling it down on himself, wrestling with it as he pounded out notes.  (Hunter exclusively played electric piano in those early days, before he moved out front with a guitar.)

On that June Saturday at that festival my all-time rock & roll best friend Dave Blackburn and I also witnessed Mountain, The Stooges, Ten Years After, Traffic, and Alice Cooper, among many others.  (For a more complete list, see blog entry The First Time I Saw The Stooges, August 24th, 2012.)  Were Mott The Hoople better than all of them?  Yeah, except for The Stooges and Traffic, they were.  Were they maybe the best live band we had seen since The Who in 1969?  Yeah, they just might have been.  Dave and I pooled our money and bought the first Mott album (with that incredibly cool M.C. Escher gatefold cover) a coupla days after we got back from the show and another life-long rock & roll love affair was born.

(Astute readers of Growing Old With Rock & Roll have brought to my attention that some of my early blog entries have had the accompanying videos stripped from them, I guess from YouTube rights attrition, including the January 6th, 2012, entry for Mott's "Sweet Angeline."  So here's a repeat of that, along with "All The Young Dudes" and "Drivin' Sister" for good measure.  I remember being enthralled with this segment when it aired on Don Kirshner's hopelessly pathetic Rock Concert back in 1973, now it just strikes me as listless and dull.  Please note how sterile & unimaginative the camera work and general presentation are compared with German programs like Rockpalast and Musikladen, which aired at roughly the same time.  (See previous Bonus Video Friday segments for visual living proof.)  Even English programs like Old Grey Whistle Test, now available for viewing on YouTube, were superior in every way to Rock Concert.  Midnight Special might have been a little better, but really not that much.  Sad.)  

I witnessed Mott The Hoople doing this "Sweet Angeline" stage bit (bringing a woman out of the audience for Ian Hunter to sing to) twice, in 1973 and 1974.  It went great both times; the participants were in their twenties, loved being serenaded by Ian, loved being onstage with the band. The teenager in this video, however, is THE MOST uncomfortable person I have ever seen in a TV clip.  I've seen kidnap footage where people appear to be having a better time than this girl. 

inspirational verse, stage patter division; "It's nice to be back in Los Angeles.  We really mean that.
 Ummm.  Actually we don't mean it, it's always a drag to be back in Los Angeles, but one must 
 go to these places in the course of one's business.  No, it's alright." - Ian Hunter, 1973

(Who - except for Mott The Hoople, and Ian Hunter in particular - travels from England to the heart of 
the television industry, Los Angeles, and then proceeds to badmouth said city ON TELEVISION?!?  Classic.  I wonder why Mott The Hoople weren't seen on more American music programs?)

inspirational verse; "A crystal-colored, cardboard queen attacked me from my plate / And I think
 that I am going mad among the swollen States / Oh, rescue me or bury me, I care not what you do / There's just one thing that I wanna know; Well, am I really YOU?" - Ian Hunter, 1972

© 2013 Ricki C.

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