Live [Bonus Disc]

by: Mott the Hoople

Three long decades after the fact, what was once the least impressive album in the entire Mott the Hoople catalog reappears as one of the most significant live albums of the 1970s. A revelation in concert, Mott were nevertheless poorly served by their first (and, for many years, only) live album, as the original plan for a double was swallowed up by corporate nerves and instead emerged a brutally edited single disc, comprising a mere handful of oddly chosen highlights (two hit singles, two non-album B-sides, a nearly side-long medley). It was a disappointment at the time and, as further archival live performances leaked out of the vault during the 1990s and early 2000s, so Live sank even further back in the fans' estimation. But the 30th anniversary edition catapults it firmly to the fore, two magnificently mastered discs not only adding 13 unreleased performances to the original album's eight tracks, but also capturing two legendary concerts nearly in their entirety: the late-1973 Hammersmith show, where the set over-ran so long that the theater owners lowered the safety curtain on the band (keyboard player Morgan Fisher blocked it with his piano); and a taste of the group's triumphant Broadway season six months later. Of these, the effect of the latter might be diminished by the existence of Two Miles from Live Heaven, with its recounting of another gig (Santa Monica) from the same tour -- there is little variation between the two shows, and the California night may actually be a shade more exciting. But still, Broadway found Mott at the peak of their powers and, with the London disc proving equally sensational, the overall weight of the package renders this the one Mott live package that everyone needs to hear. A lot of people, after all, regard them among the most important bands that ever lived. Live: 30th Anniversary Edition tells you why. ~ Dave Thompson

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