Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mott the Hoople. All the Young Dudes (1972).

When I went to college in 1974, there was a guy down the hall in my dorm who constantly played this record, and it became quite annoying.  Almost 40 years later, I have to admit it's one of the greatest rock songs ever.

Mott the Hoople were successful as a performing band at the time, but after releasing a few singles, all of which flopped, they were in danger of getting dropped by their label and calling it quits.  David Bowie learned of their desperate need for airplay and decided to write them a hit.  "All The Young Dudes" reached #3 on the UK charts and the top 40 in the US, and it basically made Mott contenders.  Now, it may be the only song that people even remember by the Hooples.

As is typical for a Bowie song, the lyrics sound great when sung, especially by Ian Hunter, who made the song his own, but when read on paper, they're inexplicable at times.  A depiction of disaffected youth emerges, punctuated by nonsense phrases and non sequiturs ("funky little boat race," OK, what??).  But that's not a complaint, I love Bowie's lyrics, and the way he mixes the straight forward with the inscrutable. 

"All The Young Dudes" became an anthem, "the" anthem, in fact, for Glam rock, although Bowie, enigmatic as always, said its subject was the impending apocalypse.  In fact, just this past week, I noted on Amazon, a 5 disc box set on the history of Glam rock released this month, called Oh Yes We Can Love, which is, of course, taken from a line in "Dudes:"