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Mott the Hoople - "Brain Capers" (LP)
 

Mott the Hoople - "Brain Capers" (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Brain Capers
Company: Atlantic
Catalog: SD-8304
Year: 1971
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6243
Price: $15.00

Reunited with original producer Guy Stevens, 1971's "Brain Capers" found Mott the Hoople still struggling to find a sound that would satisfy an increasingly disgruntled Island Records and appeal to the ever fickle buying public. Reportedly recorded in less than a week with most of the songs being captured in one take with little in the way of post-production work, this time out Mott took aim at hard rock audience just as those folks were getting into sensitive singer/songwriters and blues-rockers. Unfortunately no amount of talent and perseverance was going to make up for lousy business decisions and sheer crappy timing. Recognizing this set was likely to be commercially stillborn, Ian Hunter and company managed to turn their accumulated anger and frustrations into one eluvia impressive rock album. Not only did they managed to trash the Island Studios where they recorded the set (they also managed to set it on fire), but they somehow ended up foreshadowing punk attitude and aggression a full five years before their contemporaries stumbled across the genre. Occasionally playing with more enthusiasm than skill, tracks like the bizarrely titled 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus' and 'The Journey' actually sounded a bit like early Rod Stewart and the Faces. Hunter himself sounded great (I've always liked his bellowing style), though lead guitarist Mick Ralphs provided the biggest surprise in the vocals department with his breathtaking performance on the band's cover of The Youngblood's' 'Darkness, Darkness'.

- Besides deserving some sort of award for the year's weirdest song title, 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus' demonstrated these guys could rock out with any of their competitors. Starting out with a touch of Ralphs' 'scratch' guitar, the song abruptly exploded into a devastating bar band tune. Playing like their lives depended on getting through the song, the slightly sloppy performance actually sounded a bit like early Faces. By the way that was meant as a compliment. rating: **** stars
- The band's cover of Dixon's autobiographical and anti-drug statement 'Your Own Backyard' was interesting in that it sounded like a mixture of Bob Dylan (Hunter's raspy vocals were about as tuneful as Dylan's) and early Elton John (the song's chorus reminded me a bit of 'Tiny Dancer'). The song started out slowly, but quickly generated some major steam. Also credit the band for being willing to record a tune with a then unpopular anti-drug theme. rating: *** stars
- In large part due to the fact if featured guitarist Mick Ralphs on lead vocals, if you heard their cover of Jessie Colin Young's 'Darkness, Darkness' apart from the rest of this album there was a good chance you'd never have tagged it as a Mott the Hoople song. Starting out as a restrained, mid-tempo number the track literally exploded into a Bad Company-styled rocker. Ralphs also took the opportunity to turn in one of the album's standout solos. Their cover simply shredded The Youngblood's original. rating: **** stars
- Penned by Hunter, 'The Journey' started out as a pretty ballad, but over the span of eight and a half minutes gathered more and more momentum, turning into a positively growling slice of ferocity. Drummer Dale Griffin literally sounded like he was trashing his kit (shades of Keith Moon), while Ralphs solos were simply amazing. One of the band's all time masterpieces. rating: ***** stars
- Opening side two, 'Sweet Angelina' was responsible for attracted what little media attention the album garnered. That may have had something to do with Hunter comparing his girlfriend's mouth to a snake. A shambling bar rocker, this one had some punk-ish commercial potential though Atlantic didn't do anything with it. rating: **** stars
- Penned by keyboardist Verden Allen, 'Second Love' was the album's first disappointment. The song itself was a pretty ballad, but on this one Hunter sounded sharp and slightly uncomfortable. The strange Herb Alpert-styled horn arrangement simply made things worse. rating: ** stars
- Hum, think these guys were pissed off at their label and the public for totally ignoring them ? Well, judging by the furious 'The Moon Upstairs' you might just have something there. The whole band just sounded irritated this time out. Blistering, proto-punk aggression with Hunter even dropping the F-bomb. Hum, wonder why this one never gets played on the radio ... rating: **** stars
- Credited to Hunter and producer Stevens, 'The Wheel of Quivering Meat Conception' closed the album out with two minutes of studio outtakes and irritating sound effects. It may not have been Lou reed's "Metal Machine Music", but it came close. The ultimate in-your-face to the studio and the public. rating: * star

Anger and frustration - yap, that pretty much captures the underlying themes ... Island didn't even bother releasing a single off the album. Atlantic held distribution rights in the States and provided a similar level of support here.

"Mott" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Death may Be Your Santa Claus (Ian Hunter - Verden Allen) - 4:48
2.) Your Own Backyard (Dion Dimucci - Fasce) - 4:12
3.) Darkness, Darkness (Jessie Colin Young) - 4:03
4.) The Journey (Ian Hunter) - 8:31

(side 2)
1.) Sweet Angeline (Ian Hunter) - 5:13
2.) Second Love (Verden Allen) - 3:48
3.) The Moon Upstairs (Ian Hunter - Mick Ralphs) - 5:13
4.) The Wheel of Quivering Meat Conception (instumental) (Ian Hunter - Guy Stevens) - 2:07

Naturally the album did little commercially (lots of Mott fans have never heard it), and the principals subsequently decided to call it quits.
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