1. Whisky Woman
Work on Mott’s third album began in earnest at Island’s Basing Street Studios on the 16th November 1969 where they recorded two tracks; Mick Ralphs’ ‘Home Is Where I Want To Be’ and the Ian Hunter-penned ‘Growing Man Blues.’ “‘Home’ is my favourite track on ‘Wildlife,’ Ian Hunter told ZigZag magazine at the time of the album’s release. “We all had our own little parts on it – like Phally’s organ is beautiful. Mick writes some great songs. It was written about Bromyard (where Mick comes from). I think that Mick would sometimes really love to just go home, but he’s a musician and so it’s a question of ambition against environment.
Mott The Hoople’s experiences on their first US Tour in the Spring of 1970 resulted in a number of songs being written including Mick Ralphs’ ‘Whisky Women,’ the haunting ‘Angel of Eighth Avenue.’ Talking to ZigZag at the time, Ian Hunter recalls the inspiration behind the song. “The first time we went to the States, I met this chick who weighed 6 stone 2 and was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life. She came from the Bronx; her old man was a swine, her mother was a drunk and her sister was a whore and she was working in a bank and was determined to pull through – and it was taking all the strength in her little body. I had to go away for three days, and then it worked out that we had to come back to New York for just one hour before flying off to Georgia for the Atlanta Pop Festival, and in that one hour she came across to see me. Well, there was this amazing chemistry between us.”
‘Wildlife’ was released by Island Records on 19th March, 1971 in a gatefold sleeve. (At an early stage, the album was to have been titled ‘Original Mixed Up Mott.’) It entered the UK album charts on the 17th April, where it stayed for two weeks, peaking at number 44. The album’s inner gatefold was a live colour photo of Mott The Hoople from the Croydon show, while the front and back of the album was another colour photo of the band looking windswept and interesting in woodland up in County Durham. I guess the concept, if there was one, was that both photos showed ‘wildlife’ in its natural habitat.’
Following the release of the album, the band quickly returned to what they knew best – the road. Although a couple of the quieter songs from ‘Wildlife’ were included in the set, they were very soon replaced by newer, harder edged material. Again, there was that strange paradox; live, the band were a huge success, playing to sell-out venues all over the country. The stage was set for the recording of what was to become Mott The Hoople’s swansong for Island Records, the flawed but essential ‘Brain Capers.’
DALE GRIFFIN, IAN HUNTER, MICK RALPHS, OVEREND WATTS, VERDEN ALLEN
Mott the Hoople was one of the most hard-working bands of the late 60's - early 70's. Their first US Tour in the spring of 1970 was a huge influence in the band's creativity. As a consequence their third studio album "Wildlife", which was released on 19th of March 1971, was "country-tinged" and their least-popular record. That doesn't mean that there are no quality songs in this album.
"Whisky Women" is the opening track of the album. Mick Ralphs provided the catchy guitar riff and Verden Allen the organ melodies. The album continues with "Angel of Eighth Avenue", a low tempo song in which Ian Hunter's vocals will remind you allot of Bob Dylan. "Wrong Side of the River" is a country ballad, which can compete with any C.C.R and Lynyrd Skynyrd equivalent. The song that stole my heart is 'Waterlow'. Hunter's brilliant voice and his collaboration on melodies with Allen brought tears in my eyes! A wonderful song that only a top quality band can compose.
This Angel Air release contains two extra tracks "It'll Be Me" and "Long Red" which are pretty good songs. Mott the Hoople never managed to break through into the mainstream, even though I think that they really deserved it.
John Stefanis, get ready to ROCK! (October 2003)
...a much mellower and far more reflective album and the American influences it displays are a legacy of the band's spring 1970 US tour.
Steve Ward, Classic Rock Society (Nov/Dec 2003)
A much lighter album than Mad Shadows, Mott recorded this over a relatively long period (September to November 1970). Self-produced, it is the only Mott album where Mick Ralphs songs predominate...
The remastering has given Mick Ralphs' guitar extra bite in Whiskey Women, as well as giving an increased sense of urgency to the Melanie cover 'Lay Down'. Sound quality is excellent, and the bonus tracks...don't seem out of place. Sleeve notes by Keith Smith are excellent.
Adrian Perkins(Nov 2003)
...They...felt that they had gone too far into hard rock with 'Mad Shadows' and wanted to record an album of songs that would show another side of the band...The result is a record that shows a maturing outfit, one that has a firm belief in their own abilities.
Feedback (Nov 2003)
...the band opted for a much more country/folk feel, dubbed at the time as 'Mildlife'...a more focused melodic offering...
Mark, Losing Today, www.losingtoday.com
...the band produced themselves on some 'nice' songs for 'Wildlife'. Gently rocking, it focused more on Ralphs, ...even adding pedal steel, with Hunter's contributions sounding positively sane...
Nick Dalton, Record Collector, (January 2004)
Wildlife is much the better of these early 70s offerings... Kevin Bryan, (January 2004)
...the band's country album, more jangly, with a clutch of songs crying out to be covered...The sound is English country rock at its best...If anyone had bought the album (and most people didn't!) the future of glam rock might have been quite different.
Maverick, (Issue 18, January 2004)
Excellent and exhaustive liner notes provide fascinating historical data, while each beautifully remastered disc avoids overkill by only adding a couple of well-chosen bonus tracks...Ultimately, none are expendable Bernard Perusse, The Gazette (France), (December 2003)
...a much more sedate and song based affair...this album does have some beautiful songwriting...This issue of 'Wildlife'; has a great version of Mountain's 'Long Red' in the bonus section...
Free Appreciation Society (January 2004)
...the music is well tight, mind you with Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs in the line-up it had to be a great affair...The music is more accessible...than I feel it is on Mad Shadows which make sit more accessible to a wider range of listeners...
Gag Halfrunt, Modern Dance (August 2004)