Mott the Hoople

Rock 'n' Roll Circus: Live Wolverhampton Civic Hall, 6th April 1972

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Taped on a domestic cassette player on (but not part of) the sound mixing desk, this 66-minute concert was done at a time when Mott the Hoople were at an important juncture in their career. They had only narrowly averted breaking up just prior to this British tour, at least in part because David Bowie had offered them a new song, "All the Young Dudes." They were just about to enter their most successful and productive phase, and were in a good mood during this British tour, headlining a "rock'n'roll circus" that also included a vaudeville comedian and a knife-throwing act. This is the only surviving tape from that tour, which may make it enticing to serious Mott the Hoople fans. The band play enthusiastically, and about half of the songs have never been on any other live release, including "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople" and a bizarre mutation of "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Mr. Bugle Player" (which the band never recorded in the studio). But even fanatics should think again. The fidelity is quite simply lousy, the instruments blurring into each other and, most crucially, the vocals distant and frequently buried (and certainly usually hard to understand). It's like an average-quality, or worse, 1972 concert bootleg that happens to be officially available. This is not, it should be emphasized, an exploitative release: all five members of the lineup authorized it, and the sleeve clearly identifies it as a "special collector's edition" taken from a cassette recording. In other words, it's for Mott the Hoople fans only, and indeed only for Mott the Hoople fans who collect bootlegs. Unlike with most bootlegs, though, at least with this you get a good 20-page booklet about the show and the tour that's actually more valuable than the disc itself.

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