Mott the Hoople – The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1974)

Mott The HoopleFronted by singer Ian Hunter, Mott the Hoople released their self-titled debut album in 1969. Although the album received some recognition, the following two albums sold poorly and the band found themselves on the verge of breaking up.

The band was revitalized after releasing the David Bowie-penned All The Young Dudes. The album of the same name made it to number 21 on the UK charts. Due to their evolving stage costumes, the band became identified with glam rock. The band grew in popularity and their next album, Mott, reached number 10 in the UK.

mth

1974 saw the release of two more albums, The Hoople, and Live. Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson left the band, while the remaining members of the band formed a new band called Mott, who released two forgettable albums before disbanding.

Ian Hunter went on to have a long-lived solo career. In January, he announced three Mott the Hoople reunion concerts in October at the Hammersmith Apollo. When the concert takes place, Ian will be 70-years-old.

The cut presented here, The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, is from the album The Hoople. The clip is from an appearance on Top of the Pops. Yeah, they’re lip-synching, but this is a kick-ass rock n’ roll song, so enjoy it.

• Mott the Hoople Website: www.mottthehoople.com
• Ian Hunter Website: www.ianhunter.com

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Röyksopp – What Else Is There? (2006)

Röyksopp is an electronic music duo based in Norway comprised of Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge.

“What Else Is There?” appears on Röyksopp’s second album, The Understanding. The vocals are sung by Karin Dreijer Andersson of the electronica duo The Knife. The video for the song, by director Martin De Thurah, has model Marianne Schröder lip-synching to the lyrics, although Andersson makes a cameo appearance.

The song made it to #32 on the UK Singles Chart and reached #1 on the British Dance Chart.

The otherworldliness of the song and the accompanying video is extraordinary. It’s difficult to tell what the song’s really about—perhaps the woman singing is dead, killed in a car crash, as evidenced in this excerpt from the  lyrics:

It was me on that road
But you couldn’t see me
Too many lights out, but nowhere near here

It was me on that road
Still you couldn’t see me
And then flashlights and explosions

The singer mentions being given “just one week,” which makes me wonder if she was allowed to come back to Earth for a short time. If so, the song is thematically similar to The Musical Box by Genesis. Here’s the description of the song from the album:

The musical box:

While Henry Hamilton-Smythe minor (8) was playing croquet with Cynthia Jane De Blaise-William (9), sweet smiling Cynthia raised her mallet high and gracefully removed Henry’s head. Two weeks later, in Henry’s nursery, she discovered his treasured musical box. Eagerly she opened it and as “Old King Cole” began to play, a small spirit-figure appeared. Henry had returned – but not for long, for as he stood into the room his body began ageing rapidly, leaving a child’s mind inside. A lifetime’s desires surged through him. Unfortunately the attempt to persuade Cynthia Jane to fulfill his romantic desire led his nurse to the nursery to investigate the noise. Instinctively she hurled the musical box at the bearded child, destroying both.

Here’s The Musical Box from a performance on Belgian TV.

You can hear musical similarities between What Else is There and Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. I’ve included the video for Running Up That Hill (extended edition) below.

• Artist Website: http://royksopp.com

Catherine Wheel – Heal (1995)

catherine_wheelNo one who has followed Catherine Wheel over the years will ever understand why they weren’t more popular. Maybe they were ahead of their time. Maybe there just aren’t that many people around anymore with good taste in music.

The band formed in 1990 in Great Yarmouth, England and disbanded in 2000 (officially, the band is on “hiatus.”). I was lucky enough to have seen them at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City in July of that year. Seven tracks from that show are included on a bonus disc on the limited edition of the CD, Wishville.

I think Like Cats and Dogs, the B-sides record, (is my favorite Catherine Wheel album), purely because it’s conceptually different from the studio records. All the songs were recorded very quickly and written very quickly. It just reveals a very interesting side to the band which I don’t think many people are that familiar with.

– Rob Dickinson

It’s not difficult to hear Catherine Wheel’s Pink Floyd influences. A cover of Wish You Were Here appears on the album Like Cats and Dogs. The art for every Catherine Wheel album other than Ferment was designed by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis fame. Hipgnosis was the team of designers who created most of Pink Floyd’s album covers, as well as most of the notable album covers of the 20th century.

You can see the similarities in the cover art of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and Catherine Wheel’s Wishville.

ummagumma

wishville

Singer/guitarist Rob Dickinson continues the band’s sound in his solo album, Fresh Wine for the Horses. His live shows include many Catherine Wheel songs.

The anthemic Heal appears on the album Happy Days, while another version of the song, called Heal 2, can be found on Like Cats and Dogs, an album that contained B-sides and out-takes. A live version of the song is presented here.

• Rob Dickinson’s MySpace page:
http://www.myspace.com/robdickinson

T.Rex – Cosmic Dancer (1971)

Marc Bolan of T.RexT. Rex began in London in 1967 as a short-lived four-piece band known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. After the breakup of the first incarnation of the band, Marc Bolan (real name: Mark Feld) reformed the band as a two-piece acoustic psychedelic folk band, with Marc playing acoustic guitar, and Steve Took on bongos and various percussion instruments.

Musical differences led to Took’s departure from the band and subsequent replacement with percussionist Mickey Finn. Eventually, the band became a four-piece, with Bolan playing electric guitar and embracing a hit-making pop sound.

The release of Electric Warrior in 1971 saw T.Rex with a number 1 album in England and what would be their only hit in the U.S., Bang a Gong (Get It On).

trex

Cosmic Dancer is the second track on the album. The version above, from the film, Born to Boogie, doesn’t compare with the album version, whichfeatures Tony Visconti’s masterful string arrangement. The song was used in the opening of the film Billy Elliot. Listen for backing vocals by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (The Turtles, Flo & Eddie).

• Official Marc Bolan Fan Club: www.marc-bolan.com
• Marc Bolan/T.Rex Fan Site: www.tilldawn.net
• Marc Bolan Fan Site: marcbolanswiganbop.piczo.com