Monday, July 1, 2013

The Other Guy : Mick Ralphs


In the movie Almost Famous, Lester Bangs tells Cameron Crowe's stand-in "1973 is a dangerous time for rock n roll".

It was certainly a dangerous time for Mott the Hoople. The hard rocking, all-straight band suddenly found fame with the David Bowie penned and produced  glam rock gay anthem "All the Young Dudes", a #37 hit in the US. They toured like mad but couldn't escape the pop music pundits labeling them a Bowie band.

For 1973's Mott, Ian Hunter pushed the band to prove they could produce a great album on their own. He may have pushed a little too hard. Keyboardist Verden Allen had already left before sessions began in February. After the recording,  founding member and guitarist Mick Ralphs would depart to form Bad Company with his childhood friend, Paul Rodgers of Free.

But before he did, Ralphs took eight minutes in the spotlight to shine on this classic cut from Side Two of 1973's Mott."I'm a Cadillac" is all Mott with its heavy, chiming guitar sounds and sexually charged lyrics. Then, at about three minutes in, the electric guitars drop out and Ralphs steps up to the front with "El Camino Delo Roso", a Spanish guitar showcase.

With Rodgers, Mick Ralphs found someone who could reach the high notes on a song he'd just written called  "Can't Get Enough", soon to be a worldwide #1 hit. Bad Company also recorded Ralphs's All the Young Dudes showcase "Ready For Love" on the 1974 debut which sold 5 million copies. That year Ian Hunter left Mott after being hospitalized for physical exhaustion and eventually pursued a moderately successful solo career.

Mott the Hoople still play reunion gigs. There's a week of them coming up in the UK in November.

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