Song Of The Week: “All The Young Dudes” by Mott The Hoople

Yeah. That’s right.

Mott … The Hoople.

But first let’s talk about David Bowie.

During his 50 years in music, the Thin White Duke scaled a plethora of peaks — scoring his first #1 songs in 1975, releasing his best-selling album in 1983 — but perhaps no year better demonstrates his virtuosic genius than 1972.

He began that monster year by transforming himself into the first of many iconic characters to come, the red-haired rock & roll alien known as Ziggy Stardust, thereby launching himself into superstardom; in June, he released the classic album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars; and then he resuscitated the flagging careers of not one, but two different artists, serving as the producer on albums by Lou Reed (the single “Walk On The Wild Side” would be Reed’s sole Top 10 hit) and the aforementioned, oddly monikered, Mott The Hoople.

They began their musical journey in 1966 as the Doc Thomas Group, later changing their name to Silence, but when they signed with Island Records and their new producer — who helped them get a record deal in the first place — suggested they christen themselves Mott The Hoople after a novel he’d read while in jail, the band felt they couldn’t say no and reluctantly agreed. (Mott is the name of the titular character in the book, and a hoople is somebody normal, a straight, one who is still plugged in to the Matrix.)

After recording four albums that failed to stir the hearts of the public or the press, and finding themselves reduced to touring with circus performers, the band decided to call it quits. Cue David Bowie.

Bowie, a huge fan of Mott’s music, refused to let them break up and offered to produce their next album and give them a song if they stayed together. The band rejected his first offering, the as yet unreleased “Suffragette City” from the upcoming Ziggy album, so Bowie wrote them a song to order, the anthemic, glam-rock sing-along “All The Young Dudes” (he apparently first played the song to the group while wearing a blue catsuit and playing a blue acoustic guitar, because of course he would). This time, Mott accepted.

Released as a single in the summer of 1972, “All The Young Dudes” became Mott The Hoople’s signature song, their biggest hit in the UK and their only Top 40 entry in the US. They recorded two more successful albums — along with a few big UK hits — after which lead singer Ian Hunter split for a solo career and guitarist Mick Ralphs co-founded 1970’s supergroup Bad Company.

For all the young dudes, it was a very good year.

We can love. Oh yes, we can love! Carry the news … with Mott The Hoople.

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