Mott the Hoople's second album exploded from a hard rock sound that had scarcely been hinted at over the course of its Dylan-ish predecessor, a blistering bombast that spiraled out of what had already established itself as the band's live statement of intent: the appropriately thunderous "Thunderbuck Ram." "[The album]'s very introspective," Ian Hunter said at the time, "not contrived, but that's how we all felt at the time. We were in this peculiar mood, and we went into the studio with the numbers, but no lyrics written. They just came as we recorded. It rather frightens us now." In fact, at least one song, the foreboding "When My Mind's Gone," was coaxed out of Hunter without any preparation whatsoever. Producer Guy Stevens "insisted that I just made up a song there and then, and out it came, a complete stream of consciousness." Because when Stevens insisted on something, he really did insist. "Guy was giving us speed to keep us awake," bassist Pete Watts later revealed. "Instead of recording, we'd have 12 hours sitting in the studio control room, talking." And when they were recording, things did not always go as the bandmembers would have preferred. "Guy went purely by feel," Watts continued. On "Walking with a Mountain," at one point Buffin breaks a stick and misses a beat. "We said 'we'll have to redo that, Guy, he's missed a beat.' But Guy said, 'no, no, it's fcking amazing as it is'." And he was right. Although every one of Mott the Hoople's first four albums can be described, depending upon one's mood, as the band's best, Mad Shadows is certainly the ultimate, a full-blooded distillation of everything the band stood for, and all that it was capable of as well. [The remastering that drapes Angel Air's reissue only amplifies that, even on vinyl, Mad Shadows has never sounded so great, while two bonus tracks include an almost poisonous outtake version of "How Long," a song that, two albums later, would be reborn as "Death May Be Your Santa Claus." Santa Claus, on the other hand, should make sure that everybody owns a copy of this album.] Dave Thompson, Rovi
- Hard Rock, Rock & Roll/Roots
- Proto-Punk, Hard Rock, Rock & Roll, Album Rock, Glam Rock
- December 7, 2004
- Mott the Hoople
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