Mott the Hoople

Original Mixed Up Kids: The BBC Recordings

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Between February 1970 and October 1972, Mott the Hoople were regular guests in the BBC studios, recording some of their finest period performances for the benefit of DJs John Peel, Bob Harris, and Mike Harding, and a legitimate release for this material has long been high on many collectors' want lists. The all-embracing Hoopling the Beeb collection remains secure in a vault somewhere, but Original Mixed Up Kids: Live at the BBC at least nods in the right direction, hauling out five songs from three 1970-1971 sessions, plus six more from a live broadcast in December 1971. And the fact that the latter has been knocking around on bootleg for years should not deter anyone. You may have heard it, but you've never heard it sounding this good. The bulk of this collection hails from the end of Mott's years in obscurity: the Brain Capers album, which even they agree was nothing less than the sound of a band tearing itself apart. It's a memory that Original Mixed Up Kids confirms -- the versions of "Darkness Darkness" and "The Moon Upstairs" (which appear in both studio and live incarnations) are almost apocalyptic in their power, radiating an edge of desperation that even Brain Capers only hinted at. Another duplicated cut, Wildlife's "Whiskey Women," is even more precipitous; Wildlife itself was a painfully well-mannered album by the standards of those which bracketed it, and a contemporary Mike Harding session version maintains that calm. In concert nine months later, the band physically blister the song, lending a palpable sense of foreboding to what was once a harmless groupie-girl song. Even better, it leads exquisitely into the closing "The Journey," an epic Ian Hunter composition that screams out fear, alienation, and all those emotions that were ripping Mott the Hoople apart. Ah, but they didn't rip them apart, or rather, they did, but only for a couple of days, until David Bowie came along with his "Dudes"-shaped superglue, and kissed everyone better again. Mott became superstars, Hunter became a demigod, and if you really want a happy ending, ponder the fate of drummer Dale Griffin: He went on to become one of the BBC's top session producers.

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