The story of UK’s Mott the Hoople, whose flagging career took off after an unexpected “gift” in a David Bowie song (“All the Young Dudes”) and production by Bowie as well, is documented in MVD Video’s critical overview of the band’s beginnings and their eventual demise. Beginning with the band’s pre-Mott days as Silence, a pre-Ian Hunter formation, the video enlists the help of several UK journalists as well as Mick Jones of The Clash, and buoyed by audio commentary by Morgan Fisher, along with some words by Ian Hunter. Ian Hunter’s addition to the band brought his Dylan interests into a band that was evolving and whose work with Mott the Hoople eventually helped to define the band before leaving for a successful solo career
As the band moved through their short period, they produced a batch of memorable albums. The first four, known primarily largely to their devout fans, brought only minor notice and were sales disappointments in their day (1969-1971). But, as destiny would have it, David Bowie would step in and offer what would become their “saving grace.” But it was then that the band began to feel the tremors of disruption as one of their original members departed. After the charting hit of “All the Young Dudes,” it was a short, but blazing ride to the top for two more top-tier albums before fatigue set in.
Right after the perfect Mott album, Mick Ralphs would leave to form Bad Company, and Ian Hunter would soon leave (after The Hoople) to pursue his solo effort. What was left of the band carried on with a shortened name (Mott), producing two albums before reworking into British Lions for another (British Lions’ debut contains a good cover of Fowley’s “International Heroes”).
All of this is told in documentary and anecdotal style on the DVD. The review of Mott’s spectacular period, in which they created a lasting image, is done fairly well. It would have been nice to see participation by key components of the band in more detail. This would have provided a deeper understanding on what the band had to endure, the trappings of the success, and their ways of dealing with the spotlight. What we do have is good participation by Morgan Fisher, who provides an in-depth look at the band on their 1973 tour in one of the extras.
The overview goes through the Mott the Hoople phenomenon, album by album, dropping the ball by not discussing the good live album released after Mott. Their live shows, briefly discussed in the film, were excellent and deserved better concentration and a look at that live album would have provided that angle well. For those that want a closer look at the band, with a good biographical sketch of their first through last albums and a brief foray into Ian Hunter solo work, I recommend this DVD.