Mott the Hoople

Greatest Hits

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A petty little package this is, and no mistake. It was no secret, of course, that the end of Mott the Hoople was a rancorous, bitter affair. But while former frontman Ian Hunter was igniting his solo career with an album of songs which could have been Mott's, did his erstwhile bandmates truly have nothing better to occupy their time with than compiling a collection which not only skews all that they really achieved during three years of hits, but also undermines those who played on them as well? True, guitarist Mick Ronson was a member of the band for a mere matter of months before he split for a new band with Hunter; true, too, that his contributions to Mott's recorded catalog amounted to just one minor hit single, the spookily valedictory "Saturday Gigs." But to see his name in the same tiny print reserved for the session players who appear elsewhere revises history with semi-Stalinist zeal -- or at least, spitefulness. So, though it now seems equally petty to suggest it, did the inclusion of "Born Late 58," written by one of the Hooplers who stayed behind (bassist Overend Watts), in place of any one of a dozen more deserving moments -- all of which, of course, were penned by the errant Hunter. Oh, the politics of pop, how important they all seemed at the time. Today, of course, Greatest Hits exists as a mere prelude to the flood of Mott compilations which have since hit the shelves, and one whose ten-song contents seem impossibly skimpy -- you can be in and out of the album in under 40 minutes. But, in fairness, that was all that was demanded of it. Each of the band's U.K. hits is here, including two ("Foxy Foxy" and the aforementioned "Saturday Gigs") which, at the time, had yet to appear on LP, while two slabs of unabashedly autobiography from the Mott album and one more from The Hoople basically appear as bonus tracks. Sharp and to the point -- would that all compilations could make their mark so unerringly!

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