Mott the Hoople

Cleopatra

In the wake of Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine and bands like Cobra Verde, a new generation of glam fans finds itself confronting that timeless question: What, exactly, is a Hoople? Although the band is best known for its brilliant takes on Bowie/Reed hand-me-downs (if you don’t think Mott’s “All The Young Dudes” is the nazz, off you go to Glam Special Ed), this 1972 recording shows the boys as they really were—a live band of awesome power, heavy metal wolves in silly clothing. Glitter’s ascendance led to some disconcerting sartorial U-turns, with every Tom, Dick, and Nigel doffing his love beads for a pair of 12-inch platform boots. So it was with the Hoops, prog-rock journeymen who caught the ear of David Bowie and soon found themselves in some of the godawfullest outfits ever donned by sentient beings. If nothing else, the disc illustrates how desperately Mott clutched onto Bowie’s thin white coattails: He introduces the band, gets called a legend (twice! On video, I bet they kiss his bloomin’ behind), sings backup on “Dudes” (plot synopsis: Revolution’s bollocks! Let’s put on makeup!). At their best here, they produce such a wondrous din (see “Jerkin’ Crocus” and “Sucker”) that attendees’ ears are likely still ringing. But, at 12 minutes, “Ready for Love/After Lights” exemplifies ’70s boogie-bloat at its Fat Elvis worst, and the audience sing-along on “Honky Tonk Women” is so embarrassingly lame that, should there ever be a Nuremberg trial for crimes against rock ‘n’ roll, you can bet Mott will occupy the docket first.—Michael Little