Some stopped listening when Brian Jones died. Many gave Mick Taylor a chance, for good reason, and then jumped shipped when he walked the plank. Some actually say they don't care for "early Beatles." You've heard the words before. "The last good Springsteen record is Darkness." "The last good Costello record is Imperial Bedroom." Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I've been listening to Mott The Hoople's pre-Bowie makeover, Atlantic recordings. There are four albums and it took three to finally get it right with their fourth and final Atlantic LP, "Brain Capers." The first three could have been edited down to one brilliant debut, but most striking to me, is how Mott The Hoople was so obviously two bands. Yet I never stopped listening.
From 1969 to 1971, lead vocals were handled by both the very Dylan-influnced Ian Hunter and guitarist Mick Ralphs. The records seem to be split between longish hard rockers and even longerish ballads. It seems like producer Guy Stevens' only directive was, "Tape's on. Play." With their career just about flushed away, David Bowie comes along with "All The Young Dudes," Ian Hunter takes over as full time lead vocalist, save a track by bassist Pete Watts, and the rest is history. You know the story.
The difference between the Atlantic records and the Columbia records to my ears is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing one, but this doesn't mean the early records are bad. It's just that at times, it is easy to think you're not listening to Mott The Hoople, if you came in early and left late, or vice versa. That is how different this band was from label to label.
I prefer the "glam" records, though I was never comfortable with that label for Mott. You need more than a top hat and a boa. There were only three studio records and a couple of singles for Columbia, as well as a lineup change for the last record, 1974's "The Hoople." But the change in sound was monumental. Check out the ballad from their debut at the top of the page, the Song Of The Day from the aforementioned "Brain Capers," and their second to last single, below.
Is there someone, an artist or band, that you've listened to from birth to break-up, that has clearly had two lives musically? I don't mean "second careers," like Danny Elfman going from Cali dance punks Oingo Boingo to scoring Tim Burton films. And not someone like David Bowie, who changed from album to album. I mean, 5 records one way and then 5 records another way.