Customer Reviews: Braincapers
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on May 9, 2002
Definitely one of the wackiest albums ever recorded, every track is an absolute corker. The whole album was put onto tape in 5 days of madness at Advisions studios London.
For the sessions Guy Stevens the bands original mentor was brought back after not being at the controls for the bands previous album "Wildlife" (which the band themselves had already dubbed mildlife) Guy arrived at the studio with engineer Andy Johns, who was feeling no pain having just come away from the Rolling Stones, armed with a case of Vino Calapso and dressed as Zoro with cape, mask and sword, insisting the tracks were all laid down in one take. "Brain Capers" (featuring the Brain Caper Kids) as the album became known, had an amazing atmosphere with last gasp energy capturing Mott in a wild and manic mood, predating punk rock, the overall feel of Brain Capers was barely controlled chaos, but it remains a brilliant and crucial album. Once described as the great lost hard rock L.P. of all time, the record drew a line in the sand between sixties and seventies music (recorded in 1971 six months before Bowie gave Mott "All The Young Dudes") revealing almost everything called rock and the subsequent punk movement six years later to be nothing short of fraudulent, after just one listen to this album you can clearly hear where "The Sex Pistols" and "The Damned" got their influences.
Opening track "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" is a pounding rocker with fearsome guitars, wailing organ, a catchy hook, and carrying a trademark message of defiance.
Tracks two and three were imaginative and tasteful covers versions of Dion Dimuccis auto biographical anti drug song "Your Own Backyard" and the Young bloods neglected classic "Darkness Darkness" featuring Mick Ralphs on vocals and contained some excellent guitar. Mott had the panache to re-interpret other writers material with feeling and understanding.
"The Journey", a sad introspective masterful ballad, some eight minutes long was Mott equivalent of Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", building to a dramatic conclusion. The Journey started life as a poem, before becoming the central piece of Mott's stage act, demonstrating Hunter is a writer who has made a major contribution to rock music. The song was also a personal favorite of Verden Allen, who's keyboard playing excelled throughout Brain Capers most notably on this opus.
"Sweet Angeline" is a brilliant all out rocker, with Hunter adopting Dylanesque vocals, and is still in his solo live set today.
"Second Love" was Verden Allen's first song recorded by Mott the Hoople and fair plucks at the old heartstrings.
The penultimate track "The Moon Upstairs" is one of the most powerful tracks that Mott ever recorded. The song was unquestionably six years ahead of its time being a frightening "New Wave" fuzz tone premonitions that musically and lyrically rendered late seventies "Punk Rock" tone clumsy, and lacking in any real substance.
Brian Capers coda was a two minute instrumental piece named "The Wheel Of The Quivering Meat Conception" which was actually nothing more than the climax from a frantic jam from one of the sessions from "The Journey" a fine way to close the album.
Mott the Dog.
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on June 9, 2006
This was the first record of Mott The Hoople I listened to, a good friend lent it to me during my third year of doing time in High School. I was 'Hooked' and within a short time I purchased this and the three LP's that came before "Brain Capers."

NOBODY was like Mott the Hoople way back in 1971... this is not your old man's Led Zeppelin... not even close. If you wanna know what rock music COULD HAVE BEEN in the early seventies, this is as close as you are gonna get as this is the band to listen to.

Things begin with "Death May be Your Santa Claus" and it's a proper start to say the least, mother's really had to scream over this to..."TURN THAT CRAP DOWN".

A cover of Dion's "Your Own Backyard" was almost too preachy at the time of release because drug use was still considered too cool to lecture about, but dying ain't so cool either. The best cover version of the Youngblood's: "Darness, Darkness" is up next and as usual in Mott The Hoople's hands it is a lot better than the original version with great vocals and guitar featured by the even greater Mick Ralphs.

"The Journey" what can I say? Ian Hunter and band perform the biggest epic and downright masterpiece produced by this amazing band that would be heard by only a few of us is quite a shame. This is one of the greatest songs of the rock era on any album.

Mott always opened the second side of their records with something strong and rocking and "Sweet Angeline" (nothing to do with ol' big-lips) is no exception. It's a solid rocker that was featured in their live shows until the end.

"Second Love" & "The Moon Upstairs" are both fine tunes as well but, please forgive the closing selection as it is a short piece of insanity tacked on by producer Guy Stevens. Funny enough but it does quiver.

The bonus cuts are welcome additions found on this expanded edition and: "Midnight Lady" was a single released by the band and is more in tone to the previous record: "Wildlife" than to "Brain Capers." The big treat found here is the original version of: "The Journey" that is even more majestic than the later recorded LP Version. I am thankful the band (at last) let this out of the vaults, finally.

Angel Air has done a fine job on the remaster as it sounds so much better than before.
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on September 8, 1999
This is one of the all-time great British punk rock albums, even if that genre wouldn't even be "invented" for another half decade. "Brain Capers" is the sound of a very angry, frustrated working class band railing out against a world in which it didn't fit. The seething contempt of "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" and "The Moon Upstairs" ("we ain't bleeding you, we're feeding you/but you're too f***ing slow!") wasn't topped in raw anger by anything on the more controversial "Never Mind the Bollocks." Yet this album also has poignant moments like "Sweet Angeline" (a hint of great future Mott piano-based rockers) and the cover of Dion's junkie lament "Your Own Backyard."
Oddly, this about-to-implode band was rescued after this album by David Bowie, glammed up, and went on to some commercial success for a couple of years. Mott the Hoople burned the candle at both ends in the early '70s, and arguably only made three good albums (this one, "All the Young Dudes," and "Mott")--but they're some of the greatest British rock albums ever. The Pistols, Clash, Damned, Gen X, etc., wouldn't exist without them.
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VINE VOICEon September 13, 2001
The snarling opening cut, "Death May Be Your Santa Claus," stands beside "The Chase," which leads off the first Family album, as two of my favorite beginnings to classic rock albums. And what a classic this one is. Mott the Hoople not only prefigured the punk sound but drew a line in the sand, daring their more timid contemporaries to follow along. Few did, and even Mott the Hoople mellowed considerably when paired with their soon-to-be mentor David Bowie. I would give this recording 5 stars for guts and glory but about a 3 for sound quality. The CD is unaccountably muddy sounding in places and Ian Hunter's vocals are sometimes buried so deep in the mix you have to just forget about them.
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This was the end. The band broke up. Bassist Overend Watts called David Bowie trying to line up his next gig and Bowie offered to produce them and help them get a hit. The rest is history. "Brain Capers" stands as one of the band's finest albums. The roaring "Death May be Your Santa Claus" signals that if the band was on its last legs, it was going out fighting. "Your Own Backyard" and "Darkness, Darkness" are both strong cover tunes (the former of a Dion song, the latter of a song Jessie Colin Young wrote and performed with his band The Youngbloods). Ian Hunter's magnum opus "The Journey" mixes pretense with a gospel inspired melody that moves into a bruising series of guitar chords as it builds to its ripe conclusion.
Hunter and many of the other band members feel that producer Guy Stevens did a pretty poor job of producing "Sweet Angeline". They may be right but the song still shines on through. "Second Love" written by Verden Allen benefits from the loopy use of Mexican sounding horns and Hunter's powerful vocal performance. "The Moon Upstairs" and the nonsensical "The Wheel of the Quivering Meat" close out the album on a 1 -2 rock'n'roll punch. The two bonus tracks aren't essential but are nice bonuses. "Midnight Lady" is a decent single the band recorded and released to no airplay. We also get a punchier, longer version of "The Journey" that the band produced themselves.
The sound quality is outstanding and the liner notes terrific. Well worth adding to your collection.
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on March 17, 2000
i'd say this is their greatest album, it is very diverse, running the gamut from heavy metal to honky tonk, soul to folk. mott always did great versions of other people's material in this case dion( your own back yard) and a youngbloods great number( darkness darkness), plus the originals on this are incredible. songs like death may be your santa claus and the moon upstairs are incredibly loud, ahead of their time and excellent tunes. both foreshadow later heavy metal and punk rock. second love is a great and very rolling stones circa sticky fingers/exile on main street -like ballad. its always apparent that mott the hoople weren't mailing in their performances, ian hunter really believed what he was singing. as always with mott the hoople the playing on this recording is excellent. a great album that would please a wide range of music fans that has been unfortunately overshadowed by mott and all the young dudes. worth picking up.
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on January 30, 2001
Other than Neil Young howling "Cowgirl In The Sand", nothing could get my, usually tolerant, beloved mother into my teenaged bedroom demanding volume turndown faster than Mott's "Brain Capers". This was their finest hour. At the end of their rope, looking at an unpayable backlog of debt and despair they went into the studio one last time with the lunatic producer Guy Stevens and just let it rip. Chaotic, yet elegant, resigned yet defiant to the last. They probably figured 'let's go out in a hail of glory'. Ironically, this release attracted the attention of David Bowie and the rest is history. Moms everywhere, beware "Death May Be Your Santa Claus", "The Moon Upstairs", and "The Quivering Meat..." whatever. My Mom, however, did kinda like "The Journey ", I think she thought it was Procol Harum, but she would'nt give "Brain Capers" 5 stars. No way. 'Nuff said.
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on March 28, 2003
Call it proto-punk or proto-metal or whatever you want, but Mott the Hoople's fourth album is all about intense rock'n'roll. They somehow managed to be both melodic and articulate while delivering a sonic pummeling that often bordered on sheer chaos. Why this band never broke out of obscurity is one of the great mysteries of the 70's. "Death May Be Your Santa Claus", apart from having one of the best titles of all time, is the sort of rocker that classic rock radio would be built on if it had any taste or sense of self-respect. "The Journey" is an 8 minute epic that, gasp, has a melodic hook AND builds to an electrifying, shiver-inducing climax. "The Moon Upstairs" will split your skull, and "Sweet Angeline" will have you singing along before it even gets to the chorus. Quite simply, one of the most undeservedly unheralded albums of the 70's.
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on December 21, 1998
This is a defining moment for Mott and for 70s rock music. With this release Mott anticipated the punk movement, attracted the attention of David Bowie who jump-started their popular acceptance, and they produced their most consistently satisfying LP to date. Oddly enough, the recording took place under less than ideal conditions given their tenuous hold on an Island record contract and the studio was described by Ian Hunter as "a five day jam." Apparently the band went into the studio with the idea that this statement was their denoument and they played as hard as they ever had. For once, they tapped into some of the aggression and abandon exhibited in their live shows which had earned them the devotion of their fans. "The Moon Upstairs" and "The Journey" are a tour-de-force of the songwriting abilities of Ian Hunter who by this time had developed into an intelligent songwriter without sounding pretentious. "Sweet Angeline" is a standout track that thankfully was featured at most live gigs of Hunter both in Mott and in his own solo career. This is the best LP of the Island years and will disappoint no one interested in hearing the significant contribution that Mott The Hoople made to 70s rock.
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on July 23, 2007
"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.
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