Thursday, May 2, 2019


Of course I love the Stones. And I could wax lyrical about them forever, having remained, largely, a fan, through hip, happening and happened, back again into the same cycle, repeated every decade or so. But, it being not so long after Easter, and that stone having been rolled, and to celebrate that they too are still on the road, likewise down to a hardcore trio, plus latecomers, there is always room for Mott.
Ian Hunter is 80 in June, another good reason to celebrate this surprisingly long lived band. With a charismatic stage presence, he has always been one of the more memorable front men in rock music. The band possibly better thought of a series as bands as, irrespective of surprisingly few line up-changes, there were three distinct stages.

Stage 1 was a solid meat and potatoes rock band, unafraid to embrace soul and country influences, blessed with a singer adept at channeling a Dylanesque vibe and vocal to proceedings. However, being a cult underdog favourite did not make for massive sales, their 2nd and 3rd records failing to make much inroad, arguably as they became progressively less electric and more acoustic. It wasn't working, even in the never more credible Island records roster.

Luckily, one David Jones, better known as David Bowie, was a fan of their chutzpah, offering them a song, 'Suffragette City'. That I would have loved to hear, but they turned him down: 'not good enough'(!!) Undeterred he sent a second, immediately gaining them a massive, and deserved hit. And a massive change in style. From long-haired hippies, whilst keeping the hair, they became Gods of Glam, all bacofoil, feathers and tinsel. I can't say I cared for the image, preferring also the older songs, Dudes excepted, but, hell, it was just great to see one of 'my' bands on Top of the Pops. Link to the earlier muse, guitarist Mick Ralphs, jumped ship as this success took hold, leaving in 1973, although he is playing on the later released featured song of this post. The irony might be that nothing more of him was ever heard again, but the band he left to join was Bad Company, playing, arguably, a stripped down version of the Mott part 1 template, doing rather well therewith. Bizarrely, his replacement, Ariel Bender, not his real name, was of similar blues-rock stock, as Luther Grosvenor, ex of Spooky Tooth, transforming himself into and for the designated image.

The hits couldn't last forever, and didn't. In truth, Mott were unlikely popstars, and both too old and too ugly to cut the drift of glam to disco. Erstwhile Bowie guitar-slinger Mick Ronson took over briefly, as Bender/Grosvenor left, ahead of the band formally calling it quits. Ronson and Hunter took up the mantle, a pairing from heaven, Ronson producing many of Hunter's run of solo albums, playing guitar and, on the road, frequently billed as the Hunter-Ronson band.

(I never 'got' this song, 'Cleveland Rocks', above, querying why and how two lads from Oswestry and Hull, respectively, could and would be singing about a city that I still have no idea as to where the f it is. I later learnt it was written as England Rocks, the name change being to endear more with US audiences, with whom they were huge. The lyrics fit better with England, IMHO, but I would say that, wouldn't I?)

Phase three for Mott was reunion time, of which there have been a few, 2009, 2013 and 2018 onward.  The first two of these concentrated on the original line up, as in their 1972 song, 'Ballad of Mott the Hoople'. Therefore not necessarily the more successful glam rock model, but certainly of more appeal to the die-hard fans. Partly in recognition of the tolls of time and age on that quintet, not to say their fanbase, the more recent line-ups have been more a reprise of the later years, more keyboard focussed, courtesy the dapper charms of Morgan Fisher, and bringing back Bender. Billed as Mott the Hoople 74, they have just recently been to a town near you. Including, yes, Cleveland. (OK, the clip below isn't Ohio, but looks to be Hunter, Bender, Fisher.)

Happy birthday, Ian. And it might be time to dig out again his epistle to the life on the road lifestyle of nearly half a century ago, 'Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll Star'. Well worth a read.

Get stoned!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Stones That Roll: Landslide

Fleetwood Mac: Landslide

What has gotten into you, J. David, you may be asking. When we see your name on a SMM post, we can usually expect an alt-country song, maybe some old prog, or a new wave/power pop tune. Or something about TV or the Mets. But lately, we’ve had Miles Davis, William DeVaughn, and a couple of fake pop bands.

And now, Fleetwood Mac.

And not even the cool, bluesy Fleetwood Mac that never gets played on the radio (except, occasionally for “Oh Well” and maybe the original “Black Magic Woman” or “Sentimental Lady,” if the DJ is showing off).

Not even the experimental Fleetwood Mac that recorded “Tusk” (which I love).

But instead,“Landslide,” the Stevie Nicks tune that was a moderate hit from the band’s first album with Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  Who are you, and what have you done to J. David?

Look, I chose the song because it fits the theme, and avoids the obvious (although I expect to get to those guys next), but it is actually one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. I’ll admit that the Fleetwood Mac album, and Rumours, are great albums (and I love the song “Tusk,” if not the album so much), but I don’t go out of my way to listen to them. To me, they exist in a world of good music that has just been overplayed, and usually, I’d just rather listen to something else.

Not surprisingly, the song is rooted in Nicks and Buckingham’s relationship, at a time when their professional and personal lives were not going well, she was living in the Rockies, and the landslide metaphor related to everything that was crashing down on her. A month or so ago, Angela Hughey wrote an excellent “Five Good Covers” piece about the song at Cover Me, and she is a fine writer, so just go here and read it after you finish my piece, if you want to learn more about the song, and hear five good covers of it. There’s also a “Best Fleetwood Mac Covers Ever” piece over there from a year ago, in which I wrote about covers of other Mac songs, but Seuras Og (who, like me writes both here and there), acknowledged his own attraction to “Landslide,” and posted yet another cover. So read that, too.

Monday, April 29, 2019

What?! What Is It About Men

purchase [ Frank]

A last minute entry for the What?! theme from Amy Winehouse ... It was set for scheduling but didnt work as planned.

Where, who & what ... Winehouse could have been in another life?

The song is - she once said-  about her parents' breakup when she was ~ 10. It's worth considering the longer term effects, n'est-ce pas? ...

Compare the lyrics of my previous [ Beatles] post --- and they're miles apart. The '60 Beatles repeat and repeat. Winehouse evolves a story.

You might learn some Spanish in the clip above by following along below:
[updated edit: my bad - that's not Spanish is it?!?  I ought to know better - Portuguese]

Understand, once he was a family man
So surely I would never, ever go through it first hand
Emulate all the shit my mother hated
I can't help but demonstrate my Freudian fate
My alibi for taking your guy
History repeats itself, it fails to die
And animal aggression is my downfall
I don't care 'bout what you got, I want it all
It's bricked up in my head, it's shoved under my bed
And I question myself again, "What is it about men?"
My destructive side has grown a mile wide
And I question myself again, "What is it about men? What is it about men?"
I'm nurturing, I just wanna do my thing
And I'll take the wrong man as naturally as I sing
And I'll save my tears for uncovering my fears
Our behavioral patters that stick over the years
 I beg you to look at how Winehouse wraps the lyrics around the music in a way that few ever could. You wouldn't think that words and notes would roll that way, but she makes it possible through her emotionally timed pauses/delays.