Mott the Hoople: A Celebration

If you have very much awareness of classic rock– and of glam rock in particular– then there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Mott the Hoople; and if not, you’ve probably at least heard their name mentioned and a snippet of one of their songs played in the movie Juno. It’s probably a bit less likely that you’ve heard any of the solo recordings of Mott’s lead singer, Ian Hunter, though a cover of his tune “Cleveland Rocks” was employed as the theme song for The Drew Carey Show, and his most recent album, 2007’s Shrunken Heads, was well-received by critics.

But whether you’re familiar with Hunter and his band or not, the new collection Old Records Never Die is reason to celebrate; it functions as either a perfect introduction to the band or as an excellent summary of what made them great. At the peak of their powers, Mott was one of the very greatest bands of their generation, their albums marked by abundant energy, witheringly funny humor, cheerful cynicism and tongue-in-cheek flashiness, and, most of all, some astonishingly good songwriting from Hunter. And even after they disbanded, Hunter continued– and continues even today, in fact– to crank out excellent platters of rock and roll, high on attitude but also rich with humor and heart, his perpetually cranky disposition masking his self-deprecating wit and his deep compassion.

At any rate, I haven’t yet heard Old Records Never Die, so I can’t comment on the quality of the recordings or of the packaging itself. But I can point you to my friend Thom Jurek’s glowing review. And I can also note that this is the first collection yet released to span all of Mott’s albums (on disc 1) as well as all of Hunter’s (disc 2), and that all of the music contained in this set is truly essential.

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