Monday, August 23, 2010

"All the Young Dudes" (1972)

81. Mott the Hoople, "All the Young Dudes (Nov. 4, 1972, #37)

This is almost surely the best song David Bowie ever gave away, and Ian Hunter and his mates prove in a matter of three and a half minutes that they were just the ones to step up and knock it out of the park. No one, not even Bowie, does or has ever done this song better. Mick Ralphs's plaintive guitar opens and already it's a heartache. Then Hunter arrives at the mic, mumbling about suicide and kicks in the head, with a melody line that falls face-forward in slow motion, and the sweet pathos is underway in earnest. By the time of the chorus, one of the great moments of '70s rock is pealing forth like doves released from a box, the point where anyone with any sense is reaching for the volume control to turn it up and furthermore trying to match the notes at the top of their lungs. The song materialized in the glam era, and it's all about putting on a good show, but it comes with its own bag of tricks too, chipped in by people wearing their shades 24/7, doubtless up for days on end weary and ragged from speed. They fit it out with hand-clapping, a homely, rolling drumkit, and a lovely droning organ. The totality of it busies itself sending a message, and here is that message: "Carry the news ... Boogaloo dudes ('stand up, come on')." You could put an entire choral choir behind this and it would never get any more majestic than that. Extra credit inspirational verse: "Television man is crazy, saying we're juvenile delinquent wrecks. Oh, man, I need TV when I got T. Rex?"

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