Thursday, September 03, 2009

All the Way From Memphis

This came up on the shuffle play in the car this morning.

I didn't appreciate Mott The Hoople when I first heard them. I saw them as a rival to T. Rex, and as such believed they should be deprecated as much as possible (especially after the crack about "who needs TV when you've got T. Rex" in All the Young Dudes). Looking back, they had some great pop tunes, sounding a little like Bob Dylan backed by the Stooges with AC/DC writing the riffs. At times they could be solidly commercial. All the Way from Memphis is one such song, a strand of that skein of rock and roll that uses saxophone and piano, the acoustically LOUD instruments, as essential rhythm. On the non-acoustic side, Mick Ralphs gets some extraordinary sounds out of what I believe is a Les Paul Junior, an instrument I normally cannot stand.

The song is about a band and guitar traveling separately, the guitar ending up in Oriole when the band land in Memphis. The basis of the song is the sheer weariness and difficulty of touring a semi-successful rock band. To me, the stand out line has always been "you look like a star but you're still on the dole".

Wikipedia says the song contains a racial slur that was later changed to 'dude'. This is the original version. While we're on the subject, don't bug me about the cartoon. This was the only YouTube version I could find that's cut from the vinyl. The cartoon does have racial overtones. Sorry.

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