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Fairfield Halls, Live 1970

Mott the Hoople

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Album Review

Prior to the release of the (at the time, disappointing) Live album in 1974, the only officially available record of Mott the Hoople's live prowess was one track tacked onto the end of 1971's Wildlife album, a protracted take on "Keep a Knockin'" that was, apparently, the only salvageable cut from a projected full live album. The rest, producer Guy Stevens insisted, was so marred by technical problems as to be unusable. However, 36 years later listeners would discover that Stevens was a lot of things, but — at least on this occasion — he wasn't necessarily honest. Fairfield Halls, Live 1970 captures the full concert, from the tumultuous opening "Ohio," all ragged guitars and Verden Allen's foreboding organ, through a dynamite "Rock and Roll Queen" and three slabs from the then-forthcoming Mad Shadows, and on to the closing oldies, "Keep a Knockin'" and "You Really Got Me." And, alongside the Fillmore tapes recorded earlier in the year, at last the true magic of the original Mott the Hoople has been unleashed, a rock band that could have redefined "rock" if only more breaks had gone its way. Less exciting, but filling up the disc regardless, five tracks recorded five months later in Sweden (and previously available on the same label's All the Way from Stockholm to Philadelphia: Live 71/72 set) repeat "Thunderbuck Ram" but do add a Himalayan "Walkin' with a Mountain," "Laugh at Me," and "The Original Mixed Up Kid" to the brew, plus a volcanic cover of Mountain's "Long Red" that will leave you reeling. As if the rest of the disc hasn't already battered you hard enough.

Customer Reviews

Mott the Hoople: Fairfield Halls 1970

Mott the Hoople were a wonderful live act. The music could be a bit shambolic at times, but that was part of the fun. They always connected with their audience and gave 100%. As a Mott fan from 1970, I was delighted to see a release that might just capture the energy and spirit of a pre-glam Mott show. I was not disappointed with this album. Those few Mott fans who actually bought the ‘Wildlife’ album had a teaser from this show with the, somewhat incongruous, inclusion of ‘Keep-a-Knockin ’ as the closing track. The version here is different to the one on Wildlife.

With the inclusion of the bonus tracks, the album is clearly one of two halves. The Croydon show is alive with energy and that untamed strength that gave a Mott show such an edgy, wild feel. The slower and more ponderous tracks add a certain gravitas to the proceedings whilst never losing the old Mott magic. The closing tracks from this show (Keep a Knockin’ and You Really Got Me) demonstrate their capacity to be such a powerful live force.

It’s an interesting release in that it also contains bonus tracks recorded in Sweden the following year. Musically, this section is performed (IMO) to a much higher standard than the Croydon show. However, you sense that the band were really struggling to get a rather restrained audience (content to politely applaud each number) to let their hair down. Ian Hunter, at one point, actually asks the audience if they speak English and to ‘loosen up’.

There are some excellent performances here. There is great version of ‘Original Mixed-Up Kid’ but an otherwise superb rendition of the mighty Thunderbuck Ram, is let down by Mick Ralph’s ascending note sequence (the backbone of the song) disappearing in the mix.
A fine addition to the pre-Dudes Mott canon. Well done, Mott and Angel Air.


Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Mott the Hoople are one of the great also-rans in the history of rock & roll. Though Mott scored a number of album rock hits in the early '70s, the band never quite broke through into the mainstream. Nevertheless, their nasty fusion of heavy metal, glam rock, and Bob Dylan's sneering hipster cynicism provided the groundwork for many British punk bands, most notably the Clash. At the center of Mott the Hoople was lead vocalist/pianist Ian Hunter, a late addition to the band who developed into...
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