Mott the Hoople

Family Anthology

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There are ten songs by Mott the Hoople on this two-CD collection, Family Anthology, but about two-thirds of it contains tracks by Mott the Hoople-related artists, not Mott the Hoople themselves. You also get solo efforts by various members of the band, as well as groups in which members played before Mott the Hoople formed (such as the Rats and the Doc Thomas Group) and after Mott disbanded (like British Lions). It's not a great starting point for a highly listenable anthology, though at least the concept will appeal to hardcore Mott the Hoople fans. The execution isn't so good, however, as it jumbles together 32 recordings spanning the years 1964 through 2005; in other words, four decades of very different styles, not all of them strongly related to what Mott the Hoople did while they were active. The discs are sequenced so they jump back and forth all over the place chronologically, and what's more, more than two-thirds of it has already been issued on CD, usually on other releases from the same label (Angel Air) responsible for this compilation. Nothing's truly essential, but there are a few interesting items here, whether live recordings from Mott the Hoople's early-'70s prime; a previously unreleased outtake from their Mad Shadows album, "Can You Sing the Song That I Sing"; Mick Ralphs' original early-'70s demo of "Can't Get Enough"; and odds and ends from '60s groups predating Mott the Hoople's formation, going all the way back to Les Norman & the Buddies' 1964 demo of "I Ain't Got You" (with Ralphs on guitar). Admittedly, most of these '60s rarities are generic period British R&B/rock, blues-rock, and psychedelia without any obvious similarities to Mott the Hoople, but they're more interesting than the various post-Mott projects, which (as in Dale Buffin Griffin's 1993 cover of "The Lady Is a Tramp") can be pretty desultory. In its favor, this set was produced with ex-members' cooperation, and has a 24-page booklet of detailed liner notes. Only Mott the Hoople completists will want it, however, and even they might already have much of it on previous CD releases.

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