Ray Major - guitar; Nigel Benjamin - vocals; Overend Watts - bass, vocals; Dale Griffen - drums; Morgan Fisher - keyboards; Stan Tippins - backing vocals on "All the Young Dudes"
Although Mott the Hoople was coming off three incredibly successful years that began when they released the David Bowie-penned "All The Young Dudes," the band had become bona fide rock stars in the U.K. and a big draw in the U.S. mainly on the strength of charismatic lead vocalist, guitarist and writer Ian Hunter, whose Dylanesque vocals and biting sarcasm contributed to the foundation for the modern punk movement. The band had formed in 1968 as a lively British pub act with Hunter, guitarist Mick Ralphs, drummer Dale Griffin, keyboardist Verden Allen, and bassist Pete "Overend" Watts. They were signed to Island and with the help of producer Guy Stevens, had some limited chart success with routine rockers such as "Rock And Roll Queen" and a straight-up cover of Sonny Bono's "Laugh At Me."
Though the press and loyal cult following loved the band, they failed to have much financial success and were about to split in 1971 when glitter-rock superstar David Bowie contacted them. Bowie was a fan and did not want to see them disband. He agreed to write and record a song for them (he actually offered them "Suffragette City" prior to the release of Ziggy Stardust, and Mott turned it down!). They settled on "All The Young Dudes" an openly gay song that was now interestingly recorded by a heterosexual band. The song ended being a huge hit worldwide and suddenly Mott was back in the thick of things. Hunter was happy to take the hit single from Bowie, because that success gave him the ability to bring his own songwriting talent to the forefront of the music scene with memorable rock anthems such as "All The Way To Memphis," "Sucker," "I Wish I Was Your Mother," and "Violence," where he sings the cutting line: "Violence, Violence. It's the only thing that will make you see sense."
But six months before this recording at the Record Plant was made, Hunter and sidekick Mick Ronson (who had joined the band in late 1974 after both Allen and Ralphs had split), departed to launch Hunter's successful solo career. That move left Mott the Hoople not only with no guitarist (no big deal because the band had gone through almost six of them up to that point), but no lead singer, frontman or main songwriter. Rather than break up, drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin and bassist Pete Overend Watts opted to keep Mott going (with keyboardist Morgan Fisher who had joined while Hunter was still a member) and two new members: vocalist Nigel Benjamin and guitarist Ray Major. The revamped group went back into the studio and re-emerged with Drive On, and then embarked on a tour from which this recording was made.
This final version of Mott the Hoople (actually by this time, their official name was down to simply Mott), is interesting in comparison to the glory years with Hunter. They perform a number of the older Mott hits including "All The Young Dudes" and "All The Way To Memphis," which certainly made the old fans happy, but it almost sounds like a cover band - albeit a very good one - doing Mott the Hoople songs. This version recorded one more essentially ignored LP, and then replaced Benjamin with John Fiddler and changed their name to the British Lions. They made one decent LP, but by then, any claim to the Mott legacy was gone and the band floundered.