Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus Live

Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus Live
Angel Air 2000

If you seek this out be warned it is bootleg quality, recorded on a cassette recorder sitting on top of the soundboard (but not taking a feed from it).

However it is fascinating. This tour took place after the band nearly broke up following a depressing European tour, but before the release of All the Young Dudes. It includes early versions of The Ballad of Mott the Hoople and One of the Boys, as well as songs from Brain Capers like Darkness, Darkness and Sweet Angeline. You also get the Mick Ralphs number Until I’m Gone, and Midnight Lady which was a 1971 single.

The song that intrigues me most though is Mr Bugle Player, a rendition of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man with different lyrics. But what are the lyrics? I would dearly love to know, as they are only partially audible on this CD. Keith Smith in the sleeve notes says:

“Ian Hunter’s rewrite of Mr Tambourine Man is a bit of a curio. Ian takes a firm anti-war stance and points an accusing finger at the US government for escalating the Vietnam conflict.”

You would not know this from Hunter’s introduction:

“This song’s about love … you’ll notice the song, it’s a different lyric to what we would like to call a traditional song, because the person who wrote it used to call all the songs he nicked traditional songs.”

and here a few of the words that I can make out:

Hey Mr Bugle Player play a tune for me …
In the jingle jangle jungle I’ll come following you…
Take me to the cemetery where the crosses are uncrossed
and the ashes turned to dust
and the medals turned to rust
and the … their footsteps fading

and the people wave and welcome you as a man sits in death row
he’s got precious hours to go
for a move (?) he did not know
and he only wishes now he’d done it eagerly.
And the one-eyed monster haunting him

from a book he’ll never read
and he’ll never trust again
The cardboard coffins of your grief sit quietly as home
while the monsters sit alone

Getting much further is a bit hopeless but if anyone has more of the lyrics or other performances please do let me know

3 thoughts on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus Live”

  1. I agree with you. Must have another go at this.
    I did ask Hunter on Horse’s Mouth if he had the lyrics. He said “too long ago” or words to that effect!

    1. Wouldn’t it be great to sit down with him and have him help transcribe the lyrics?
      There is more to the introduction of the song at the end of the preceding track.
      I could email it, but no point if you’ve already heard that part.
      I’d like to find more versions of the song so I could understand the lyrics better.
      It’s such an emotional song, “Mr Bugle Player” had just lost his son in the Vietnam conflict.
      Funny after several years I’ve found this, along with your Horse’s Mouth post, while trying to find out more about this song

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