Mott the Hoople are no stranger to compilations, many purporting to be definitive or essential, or at least delivering some variation on the golden age of rock & roll. The 2013 Columbia/Legacy double-disc is part of Legacy's ongoing Essential series and, certainly, fans will find places to nitpick, such as the absence of "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" or other parts of the tremendous Brain Capers, which is only represented by the wonderful "Sweet Angeline" or "Ballad of the Mott the Hoople (26th March 1972, Zurich)," which is weirdly M.I.A. But that's nitpicking, isn't it? Judged in its entirety, this 34-track retrospective tells the story of Mott's prime -- cutting off when lead singer/songwriter Ian Hunter flew the coop, but few would truly be upset by that -- and hits all the high points, beginning with their heavy, heavy instrumental version of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and winding up with a live version of "American Pie" that wraps up the set. Along the way there are a couple non-LP cuts -- "Foxy Foxy," "(Do You Remember) The Saturday Gigs?," the B-sides "Rose" and "Lounge Lizard" -- live versions, deep cuts, and, of course, the canon: "Rock & Roll Queen," "Walkin' with a Mountain," "One of the Boys," "Sucker," "Ready for Love/After Lights," "Sweet Jane," "I Wish I Was Your Mother," "All the Way from Memphis," "Honaloochie Boogie," "Whizz Kid," "The Golden Age of Rock N Roll," "Roll Away the Stone,' and "Born Late '68." If you're looking for a concentrated blast of everything that made Mott the Hoople monumentally great, there's no bettering this set, which will re-confirm the notion that, on some days, Mott the Hoople is the greatest rock & roll band that ever existed. Usually, it's days that you listen to a compilation like The Essential Mott the Hoople.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2