Angel Air SJPCD289.
1 recorded at Friars Club, Aylesbury UK on 12th June 1976
2 recorded at the Polytechnic Students Union, Leeds UK on 4th November 1976
3 recorded at the Forum, Los Angeles on 5th December 1975
4 recorded at the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland OH on 25th November 1975
When Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson left Mott The Hoople at the end of 1974 the band wasted no time in recruiting guitarist Ray Major. Recruiting a new vocalist (Nigel Benjamin) took a while longer, and with such big shoes to fill who can blame them? Shortening their name to MOTT (note the capitalisation) they soldiered on for two albums before calling it a day at the end of 1976.
Were they any good, tho'? These live tracks show they gave it a jolly good shot. Yes, we've seen these tracks before, in the form of the 2-CD set Over Here And Over There. Good though that set was (I waxed lyrical reviewing it at the time) it suffered from a certain amount of track duplication (The Great White Wail was on there no less than three times!), hence the need for a compilation that captures the best bits.
We open with five tracks from a blistering performance at the legendary Friars club, Aylesbury in June '76 (I was there, and can confirm it was a totally insane night). Ray's guitar is brutal in disc opener Storm, while Collision Course has always been a favourite of mine with its message of determination/defiance ("Don't let them tell you you'll never find fame - we know better!")
Just a notch down are three tracks from Leeds Polytechnic in November '76. A great cover of I Don't Wanna Discuss It segues into All The Way From Memphis in a manner that doesn't work for me - an up-tempo rocker that to these ears sounds almost pedestrian in comparison.
But no matter, the rest of the disc works just fine for me. Two more shows, this time from the Forum, LA and the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland OH in 1975 complete the disc, with a great intro by resident DJ Chris Whitehouse in LA, Nigel delivering Sweet Jane with a youthful, enthusiastic shriek while MOTT drives the mixing desk at the Agora into a full-blooded overload.
Sleeve notes are good as always, even though they are a reprint of Dale Griffin's original notes from Over Here...
Highly recommended, especially if you didn't get the original 2-CD set.