Before Mott the Hoople struck gold in the U.S. with "All the Young Dudes," they were already a respected, moderately successful band in England, with four albums under their collective belt. The Best of the Island Years: 1969-1972 compiles the choicest cuts from this era, displaying Mott's considerable breadth and range. From the Dylan-esque "No Wheels to Ride" to the string-laden ballad "Waterlow" to the flat-out guitar fury of "The Moon Upstairs" and "Thunderbuck Ram," Best of the Island Years shows Mott as more than the glam Bowie protégés they were labeled as after their U.S. breakthrough. Best of the Island Years delivers one lost classic after another, without a bad selection in the set. Die-hard fans will appreciate the release of the rare single-only cut "Midnight Lady," even though they may carp about a missing cut or two (such as "Half Moon Bay"), and it's true that the covers in the set are the most expendable, albeit energetically performed. Still, since the set was compiled by original Mott drummer Dale Buffin Griffin, the track selection is lovingly assembled, and Griffin adds hilarious liner notes (though the booklet layout makes them difficult to read). For newcomers interested in learning about the roots of Mott, as well as longtime fans looking for a superb collection, Best of the Island Years is essential.
AllMusic Review by Victor W. Valdivia