The story of a Five Star Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – part five
A doff off the hat from Mott the Dog
and a curtsy from Ella Crew
Grosvenor finally made it back into the studio to record his first album in
nearly twenty years, in 1996 at Steve Winwood’s studio. Once there the
creativity stacked up over the years all came tumbling out. In two weeks ten
tracks were completed and ready for release. Luther surrounded himself with old
mates including ex Spooky Tooth Mike Kellie (who as well as playing sturdy
drums wrote ‘Fullness Of Time’ for the album); Dave Moore took the keyboard
position; while Steve Dolan has the time of his life supplying the bass notes.
Jess Roden makes two guest appearances on the two cover songs, a storming
version of Joe Tex’ ‘I Wanna Be Free’, and a roaring slab of Bob
Seger’s ‘Fire Down Below’.
But it is obvious Luther Grosvenor is the star. Ariel Bender
leaps out at you during the rockers and nails the solos to the mast. The solo
on ‘Best Years Of My Life comes out and knocks your boots off. If there was
any doubt that Luther Grosvenor had lost his chops, that doubt is gone in
seconds. Just listen to the opening song, the autobiographical ‘Evesham
Luther Grosvenor co-wrote six of the songs with long time
buddy from Blues 92 days John Ledsom. Mixed into the album are some wonderful
blues numbers where Luther really lets rip, along with a very moving
instrumental ‘Cathy’, dedicated to Luther’s wife. The music was arranged
by Dave Moore, but Luther’s playing is outstanding, you really have to love
some very much to get that sort of emotion out of a guitar. The title song is
played twice, once electrically and again at the end of the album acoustically.
‘Floodgates’ is without doubt one of the great albums of the nineties.
With the great critical success of ‘Floodgates’, the
idea was put out to re-form the original Spooky Tooth, feeling that there was
some unfinished business there. The band convened to Germany to start
recording, but Gary Wright had to send apologies as his recording commitments
in America did not permit him to join the others. So the other four, Mike
Harrison, Greg Ridley, Mike Kellie and Luther Grosvenor, went ahead with
recording with out him.
It was a mistake. It just isn’t Spooky Tooth without Gary
Wright. Obviously the playing is staggeringly good, and they get to re-record
an old Spooky Classic ‘That Was Only Yesterday’, and one from the days of
Art, ‘Love Is Rea’. Luther Grosvenor plays some lovely guitar, but in
general the album lacked that necessary spark. It was finally released titled
‘Cross Purposes’ to an indifferent public in 1999.
Luther Grosvenor did allow Ariel Bender out of the cupboard
one more time though. In April of 1999 Ariel Bender joined the Ian Hunter band
for the encores at the first annual Mott the Hoople Convention. The band
stormed into ‘Walkin’ with A Mountain’ and Ariel Bender was so busy
throwing shapes that he didn’t even notice his guitar was not plugged in (a
little too much Dutch courage). But Ariel Bender still performed the gig of his
Those wonderful people at Angel Air have re-released
‘Floodgates’ as an Anthology with an in-depth biography including some rare
photos. They added on the two tracks from the Peter Green tribute album
‘Rattlesnake Guitar’; the best of the tracks from the Spooky Tooth reunion
album; the first single from Deep Feeling, ‘Pretty Colours’, from way back
in 1966; and as a special treat tacked onto the end is a live version of
‘Here Comes the Queen’ from 1974, Ariel Bender playing with Mott the Hoople
in Santa Monica. Ariel Bender always seemed to get the last word.
A second solo album was planned in 2000, but in a dramatic
turn around, Luther Grosvenor decided enough was enough and announced his
complete retirement from the music business. This time it seems like the
retirement is final. A man who can produce an album of the quality of
‘Floodgates’ will be sorely missed.
“Floodgates they can open or they close,
Floodgates can open many broken roads,
Life is like a Prayer that never seems to end,
A never-ending Story, a never-ending Friend.”
Floodgates by Luther Grosvenor. (1996)
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]