Mott the Hoople

Two Miles from Heaven

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Although it has been largely, if not entirely, superceded by the wealth of other exhumations made since the mid-'90s, Two Miles from Heaven retains its place in Mott the Hoople fanatics' hearts, not only because it was their first trip into the archive, but also because it remains the best. Drawing from the three years and four albums that Mott spent with Island Records, and compiled by bandmember Buffin, the album concentrates on material that would at least sound familiar to passing purchasers. It has alternate takes on three tracks destined for the breakthrough All the Young Dudes album: a tumultuous version of "Thunderbuck Ram," a studio take on the live standout "Keep a Knocking," and a vocal rendition of the instrumental "You Really Got Me." There's a welcome appearance for the 1969 B-side, "The Road to Birmingham," while the Angel Air remaster also consolidates every different version of the original album released around the world during the early '80s. Different territories saw tracks added and removed, but all 15 songs intended for the 1981 release are here, plus two more that the constraints of the original vinyl would not allow -- further non-LP flips "The Debt" and "Downtown." Not every track stands as the band left them. Bassist Pete Watts made a few repairs to his own parts, while latter-day associates Morgan Fisher and Ray Majors both added some overdubs to "complete" a few numbers. The slide guitar solo scything through "Black Scorpio" (aka "Mother's Little Jewel") is actually one of Majors' contributions, and is a tribute to the overseer that such a glaring addition really doesn't get noticed unless you know about it. The remastering is superb, and the booklet is a mine of information (something that was distinctly lacking from the original release). No matter, then, that so much of this album has been recycled elsewhere. The original remains the greatest.

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