Two Miles from Live Heaven

by: Mott the Hoople

Taking its name from the first-ever visit to the Mott the Hoople archives, the early-'80s Two Miles from Heaven outtakes collection, Two Miles from Live Heaven adheres to the same high standards as its predecessor with the unearthing, at last, of one of the best-known (and most sought-after) of all Mott documents: the 1974 Santa Monica Civic show. Originally recorded and broadcast by The King Biscuit Flour Hour, the show has sustained some of Mott's most cherished bootlegs, including the legendary Behind Enemy Lines. Since then, odd tracks have filtered out on various official collections, but Two Miles from Live Heaven marks the first ever appearance of the entire show, and it was well worth the wait. Opening with Ian Hunter's a cappella drawl through the first verse of "American Pie," it then crashes into a phenomenal "Golden Age of Rock'n'Roll" before charging on through a set that doesn't put one foot wrong in its portrayal of the Ariel Bender-era band at its peak. From obscure B-sides ("Rest in Peace") to even more obscure solo shots (Bender's own "Here Comes the Queen," from his Under Open Skies album), from key album tracks to monster hit singles, and all wrapping up with a fabulous "All the Young Dudes," this remains the only Mott live show that everyone needs to hear. But, of course, it won't be. A two-CD package also serves up highlights from two further Mott shows, similarly recorded on U.S. tour duty. Five tracks from a Fillmore East gig in 1971 include their then-customary visit to the Jerry Lee Lewis songbook, a rousing "It'll Be Me," plus a scintillating Rolling Stones medley; four more date from 1973, and a show at the New York Felt Forum. It is a little disjointed in terms of overall listening, and the sound quality is rougher than the Santa Monica show, but the power of the band -- and the strength of their material -- is undeniable. The same disc wraps up with three studio demos from 1969-70, plus an unexpurgated rough mix of 1971's "Death May Be Your Santa Claus." Of the four, another Lewis number, "If Your Heart Lay With the Rebel" is the most interesting, representing one of the earliest Mott recordings yet to emerge, but all contribute mightily to the growing mound of Mott outtakes and oddities which will some day demand an anthology of their own. ~ Dave Thompson

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.