Out of the Park and Still Rising...
Peter Baklava | Charles City, Iowa | 07/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Brain Capers" is cut from the same cloth as the eponymous first album. It's "Mott the Hoople" on STEROIDS.
The whole band clicks into overdrive on this platter. Dale "Buffin" Griffin's drumming is explosive, Verden Allen's organ is amped-up to the nth degree, Mick Ralph's lead work is his most authoritative (with a clear nod towards George Harrison's influence on "Sweet Angeline"), and Ian Hunter's vocals are his most expressive.
There is no letdown in the material, either. The rockers like "Moon Upstairs" and "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" are JET-FUELED blasts of energy, the ballads ( Dion's "Your Own Backyard", Jesse Colin Young's "Darkness, Darkness", and Mott's own "Second Love") are skillfully and tastefully handled. As an epic declaration of alienation, "The Journey" nearly outdoes Procol Harum at its own game--until it rips into a headbanging finale that is pure Mott.
"Brain Capers" failed commercially because it arrived when rock was firmly into its "hippy-dippy" phase. I remember when I played "Moon Upstairs" for a friend, he just went a little white and said, "uh, what the h-- are they doing?" What Mott was doing was stretching the envelope sonically, and tapping into the motherlode of rock's "Sound and the Fury". The lyrics that leapt out, like "I don't give a --- anyway", "I wandered freely like a bird that had broken both its wings", and "We ain't bleeding you, we're feeding you, but you're too ----ing slow!", were cynical, nihilistic (just as I was feeling at the time) and ballsy beyond belief. It was the biggest challenge to the stoner generation since Frank Zappa, but instead of jokey send-ups it was angry and in-your-face.
I was profoundly grateful for the album's appearance in 1971, and I still love it.