Angel Air SJPCD029.
All tracks recorded 16th February 1971
All tracks recorded 29th November 1972
Mott The Hoople were one of the most influential bands to come out of the UK. Everyone from Oasis to REM to Def Leppard have cited Mott as a major influence. In their day Mott soon became an awesome live act, and concerts were frequently a riotous affair. Sadly, they were unable to convert this live success into record sales, and four albums on Island sold poorly.
A switch to CBS and a tie-up with David Bowie (before Bowie himself had broken through) saw long-overdue commercial success for Mott. However, very little evidence has been made available of Mott's live prowess, save for the too-short live album recorded and released shortly before Mott broke up at the end of 1974.
Hence this welcome release on Angel Air, which features archive performances from 1971 and 1972. Both shows were originally recorded for radio, the first being in Stockholm, Sweden early in 1971, the second at the Tower Theatre, Philadelphia at the end of 1972.
Disc 1 captures Mott in blistering form, despite a rather subdued audience. Mick Ralphs' guitar is well forward in the mix as he plays blistering riffs. Both Walkin' With A Mountain and Thunderbuck Ram move at the pace of a runaway locomotive, capturing the explosive energy that was Mott live.
Late 1972 saw Mott touring the United States for the third time, this time under Mainman's management and as headliners for the first time. David Bowie introduced them at the Tower Theatre, Philadelphia amd joined them on stage for the encores, and this show makes up the second disc. Again Mick Ralphs' guitar is loud and clear as again he plays blistering but tasteful licks, like his extended solo on Ready For Love. Bowie joinds Mott for the first encore All The Young Dudes, where is backing vocals are clearly audible. A raucous version of the Stones' Honky Tonk Women closes the show, complete with a little audience participation.
Both shows have, of course, been released unofficially over the years. The joy of releases such as this is the sound quality is vastly improved on anything which has gone before. Disc 1 is especially good in this regard. Disc 2 suffers from a recording defect on the first track, but this doesn't really detract from what is another fine recording. Crank the volume up high, and you can imagine you are really there in the front row - always the mark of a good live album.
The set is beautifully packaged, with a 16-page booklet written as always by Campbell Devine (the man responsible for the recent Mott biography). The booklet also contains many rare live photos, my only complaint being that many of them are reversed (ie they appear to be playing left-handed).
This set complements perfectly the recently-released Anthology and is not just an essential purchase for all Mott fans, but for any fan of rock music wanting to see just what all the fuss is about.