Mott the Hoople

Young Ginger and the Stick Insect

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Is there a single wormhole left to explore in Mott the Hoople's pre-"Dudes" catalog? After more than 30 years of hungering for even the briefest look behind the scenes, you'd seem it's fast getting to the stage where there really can't be much of note left that we haven't heard. Apparently not. By the time this album reached the streets in 1998, cleaned up versions of six of its 14 tracks had already made it out on overground releases -- the live "Sea Diver" on the Stockholm to Philadelphia live album; "Long Red," "Santa Claus," "Downtown," "The Debt," "Moonbus," and an alternate live take on "Ohio" on the All the Young Dudes box set. But don't start thinking that maybe Young Ginger is entirely a waste of time. All but one of the boxed set tracks was remixed for the occasion -- this is your chance to hear them in their original state. Elsewhere, "The Chosen Road" emerges as a powerful, if incomplete, band demo; a BBC version of "When My Mind's Gone," despite a lot of surface noise, apparently salvages a recording which even the BBC don't own; and two cuts from Mott's 1970 Fillmore West show prove just what an amazing spectacle the band must have been back then. What all this boils down to, then, is let your own conscience be your guide. Mott, after all, remain one of the crucial bands of the early '70s, and half an album of generally excellent, unavailable material is a helluva lot better than none.

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