What follows is a discography with brief notes, links to the review on this site where applicable, and links to Amazon US and Amazon UK CDs or DVDs where possible.
A few notes on collecting Mott the Hoople:
- This is the age of streaming. Most (not quite all) of the music below is easily played via Spotify, Apple Music or similar services. There is also YouTube which has lots of rare material. The main reasons not to go the streaming route are either for the best possible quality (though streaming can be very good now), or for a preferred mastering that is not available via streaming, or because you prefer a physical package with sleeve notes, picture and so on. Of course if you do want a physical package, you may prefer a vinyl release which has the artwork as originally intended.
- If you do want CDs, you will find most of them can be tracked down for a reasonable price, but it may require a little effort as some are out of print. It is worth clicking the Amazon links even if the price looks unreasonable, as there may be used copies much cheaper.
- Not all the CDs sound the same, even of the same title. Further, some have extra tracks.
- There is a confusing array of live albums, some with different titles but the same material. Sound quality varies but you should at least try to hear Fairfield Halls, Live 1970, as it is the best available document of a band that was very special in performance.
- If you want the most comprehensive list of releases with all the variations, Discogs is the best source of information. If you want lyrics, hunter-mott.com is the best source; fans have listened to the songs and transcribed the lyrics with high accuracy.
- Don’t take the star ratings too seriously. It is a quick way of spotting which albums I consider the best. Note that five stars is reserved for the truly exceptional, so even three stars is not bad. Guide:
|*****||Exceptional. If you like the band and/or Ian Hunter, an essential purchase.|
|****||Very good indeed. Buy with confidence.|
|***||Good album. Recommended.|
|**||One of the poorer efforts.|
|*||For completists only. Either the sound quality, or the performance, or both, is poor.|
Click the headings below for a full review and tracklisting for each album.
The Island Years
Mott the Hoople ****
Where it all began. One of the most Dylan-esque of the band’s albums.
Mad Shadows ***
A journey into the strange territory of Hunter’s stream of consciousness lyrics, egged on by Guy Stevens.
Mott goes country, kind-of, with a chaotic live medley from Fairfield Halls live tacked on the end. A decent album but the weakest of the Island releases.
Brain Capers ****
This is where it came together: a powerful, energetic performance.
Fairfield Halls Live 1970 **** (not on Island, but belongs in this section!)
The best souvenir we have of the energy and chaos of a Mott the Hoople concert from the early years. Would be five stars except it is on the short side and the sound quality is good but not stellar. The complete CD is also included in the compilation called In Performance.
The Columbia Years
Note that all the Columbia albums except Live are available as an Original Album Classics bundle.
All the Young Dudes ****
Famously influenced by David Bowie, who provided the title song and produced the album, though Bowie’s muted production may not have been ideal.
Along with Brain Capers, candidate for the best album the group released. Powerful and though-provoking, strong for both rockers and ballads.
The Hoople ***
The album where Ariel Bender replaced Mick Ralphs, and Mott at the peak of glam stardom.
Live on Broadway and in London. Make sure you get the extended 30th Anniversary re-issue. Decent but not the equal of Fairfield Halls 1970.
Other Mott the Hoople Live albums
Great performance, terrible sound quality, but worth hearing. The only official release of Mr Bugle Man, Mott’s take on Mr Tambourine Man. Not available on streaming sites.
In Performance ****
Sound quality varies, but a superb collection of the best live recordings available from the early years.
Live 2009 ****
The first reunion, good album though probably not the best performance they did on the tour.
Live 2013 ***
The second reunion, decent though less compelling than 2009 and Hunter has some vocal difficulties. The accompanying DVD is by far the best video we have of the band in performance, there being little competition.
The original Columbia Greatest Hits compilation; has the hit singles.
The best of Mott the Hoople: The Island Years 1969-72
Generous compilation of highlights from the Island years.
All the Young Dudes
Excellent anthology box including the biggest hits as well as rarities.
Original Album Classics
The Columbia albums in a good value package (if you can get it at a sensible price, since it is now out of print). Remastered and with extra tracks. Contains All the Young Dudes, Mott, The Hoople, and the two post-Hunter albums, Drive On, Shouting and Pointing. These last two are hard to find on CD elsewhere.
Old Records Never Die: The Mott the Hoople Ian Hunter anthology
This 2 CD set spans nearly the whole of Hunter’s career, from 1969 Mott the Hoople to Shrunken Heads in 2007.
The best book on Mott the Hoople, by some distance, is Campbell Devine’s All the Young Dudes, covering both Mott and Ian Hunter, and fortunately still available.
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