Live Fillmore West: San Francisco

by: Mott the Hoople

In 1970, Mott the Hoople embarked on a U.S. tour, closing out their excursion that July with a four-night extravaganza at the Fillmore West, second on the bill to a headlining Quicksilver Messenger Service. It wasn't the band's first trip to the States, but now they were promoting their debut album, which had hit the shops the previous fall in the U.K., but was held back in the U.S. for a spring release. The bulk of Live Fillmore West: San Francisco is drawn from these shows, and although the sound quality is far from pristine, still the CD captures the ferocity of the Hoople's performance. The CD picks up the gig with their incendiary cover of "Darkness Darkness," one of a pair of non-album covers they performed live that night, along with a storming take on "Keep- a-Knocking." Mott's eponymous album featured a few covers as well, and onstage they let loose with a ferocious "You Really Got Me," while their own "Rock'n'Roll Queen" is positively thunderous. Their version of "At the Crossroads" is chiming British blues at its best, while "Thunderbuck Ram," one of two tasters for their second album, leaves the blues behind, as the Hoople stake a banner in the hard rock/metal realm. It's pretty evident that Mott must have blown Quicksilver straight off the stage. Counter-intuitively though, the disc opens with four numbers recorded live at the Fillmore West the following year (most likely because of their superior sound quality), kicking off with a glorious "Angel of Eighth Avenue." Here Mott sounds much freer, at times even a bit ramshackle, but absolutely exhilarating. And if all that wasn't enough, the disc finishes with a previously unreleased demo of "The Wreck of the Liberty Belle," recorded circa late 1969/early 1970 with Chris Kimsey. Although never brought to final fruition, this instrumental still boasts a surprisingly savage power even in this raw state. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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