Connoisseur VSOP CD283.
Following on from last year's Friends and Relatives compilation of recent Angel Air releases comes another compilation of Angel Air releases, this time on a single CD.
In some ways this compilation is more accessible, with less to distract the uncommitted fan, but in other respects I feel a little disappointed. I don't really see the need for another compilation when the earlier one did such a fine job. Anyhow, to the music...
DTG's I'll Be Doggone is very much a 60's beat song, but with little to suggest their guitar player (Mick Ralphs) would later find such fame and fortune with Mott The Hoople and then Bad Company.
The Rats I've Got My Eyes On You Baby is much stronger, featuring a gutsy vocal from Benny Marshall (who should have "made it" big time himself), and backed (for want of a better "handle") by the Spiders From Mars.
Next up are two live tracks from Mott The Hoople's performance in Stockholm in 1971, followed by Angeline live at the Tower Theatre, Philadelphia in 1972. All three are strong, and representative of the Stockholm To Philadelphia album.
Morgan's Fire In The Head (from their Sleeper Wakes album) is very prog-rock-ish, very reminiscent of Yes and other bands of that ilk. Steve Hyams' I Fall Over I Fall Down is a "down" song, about the downward spiral into drink and drugs oblivion. If the name is unfamiliar to you, then Steve was a friend of the band, who did indeed audition after Nigel Benjamin left (and indeed recorded some demos with Mott), but was never really a member of the band.
Next up are two live tracks by Mott (from the Over Here and Over There album) recorded live at Friar's club in Aylesbury in 1976. Very rough and ready, very raucous, very live. It is either unadulterated brilliance or a mess, depending on your viewpoint. You'll either love it or hate it.
British Lions' Booster (from Live And Rare) is a good demo, but maybe not as strong as on the official release. Verden & Luther's Sweet Sweet Girl is the only previously-unreleased (on CD) track. It is a strong number, reminiscent of the material Verden would later record for Long Time No See. Luther's playing complements the song well, and is a long way from the style he adopted with Mott The Hoople.
Mick Ralphs' Rock 'n' Roller (from Take This!) is still, I feel, a disappointment. His guitar playing here is undistinguished, and his vocal style is altogether more husky than the style we're used to from his Mott The Hoople days.
The Silence' Route 66 is much stronger, taken from the Italian Job/Shotgun Eyes CD, and demonstrating just how good things can turn out if you do them just for fun.
Finally, we're treated to Overend Watts' Caribbean Hate Song, which is from his forthcoming solo album, doe some time in 2000 (or maybe even 2001). It is as far removed from Born Late 58 as you're ever going to get. Think John Otway and you'll be much closer to the mark. Dry humour and very acerbic in tone, again you'll either love it or loathe it.
Track-by-track notes are by Dale Griffin, together with some background info on each song.
On its own this CD is a reasonable enough introduction to Mott The Hoople-related releases on Angel Air, but if you have already invested in the Friends And Relatives CD, then I can't see enough here to recommend it.