The best songs here sound like a Ziggy-style concept album, but from the Spiders From Mars’ point of view. It was Mott The Hoople’s hostility to real-life ex-Spider Mick Ronson which made an exhausted Ian Hunter quit Mott The Hoople in December 1974.
Recruiting Nigel Benjamin and Ray Major to replace Hunter and Ronson, they shortened their name and soldiered on. Bassist Overend Watts reluctantly shouldered the songwriting burden on 1975’s Drive On (6⁄10). I’ll Tell You Something’s defiant message to their estranged singer, which claims ‘you’re turning your back on something so strong’, files a further chapter in Mott’s self-aware story of a rock’n’roll band.
Benjamin’s dramatic hard rock shriek and Major’s glam guitar build a piano ballad into a kitchen-sink epic. Stiff Upper Lip, meanwhile, admits, ‘Made no bread/We must be dumb.’ Though short on tunes, there’s a surprising, liberated swagger to an album you don’t have to be a Mott completist to enjoy.
Shouting & Pointing (5⁄10) finds the songwriting well dry, with the notable exception of Career (No Such Thing As Rock’n’Roll), where new boy Benjamin’s lyrics recognise a future when ‘all I’ll get is growing old.’ Mott’s erstwhile leader could hardly have said it better./o:p