Two Miles from Heaven
Island IRSP 8
Bowie fans, it is nearly time for the entrance of your hero – but not quite. Following Brain Capers, Mott entered a period of intense touring, though not an altogether happy one, especially some exhausting dates in Europe with poor venues and too much travel and cheap hotels.
In early 1972 Mott recorded tracks for a proposed single: Ride on the Sun, Black Scorpio, and Moving On. The single was never released, but is sufficient excuse to present Two Miles from Heaven, a 1980 compilation which includes two of the tracks (Moving On was eventually added to a CD reissue, though it is the weakest of the three tracks).
Two Miles from Heaven came about when Dale Griffin (Buffin) "started to pester Island Records to consider making a new Mott the Hoople compilation." It is a collection of outtakes from the band’s Island years, some presented more or less as found in the vaults, others tinkered with by overdubbing additional backing, but it is tastefully done.
Mainly for fans, perhaps, but there is some excellent stuff on here. The tracks from the post Brain Capers sessions mentioned above are outstanding, and it is fun to hear things like the studio version of Keep a Knockin’, and the vocal version of You Really Got Me, even if you conclude that the versions released first are the better ones. You can also hear, of course, early versions of material that turned up on the next album – which was not on Island Records.
I’ve tried to roughly place the recordings based on Campbell Devine’s sessionography but don’t take this as definitive. The notes to the album are not particularly clear about such things.
You Really Got Me (with vocals) – no, not an improvement, but interesting
The Road to Birmingham (B side of Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen) I really like this early track
Thunderbuck Ram (the not-quite original mix with louder organ)
Going Home (from Mad Shadows sessions)
Little Christine (from debut album sessions)
Keep a Knockin’ (from Mad Shadows sessions)
Black Hills (haunting Mick Ralphs vocal from Wildlife sessions with 1980 added instrumentation)
Black Scorpio (Momma’s Little Jewel) (post-Brain Capers session 24 Jan 1972)
One of the Boys (original demo)
Till I’m gone Now (from Brain Capers sessions)
Growing Man Blues (from Wildlife sessions)
Ride on the Sun (early version of Sea Diver, post-Brain Capers session 24 Jan 1972)
Surfin’ UK (from Wildlife sessions, sounds almost like an alternate take of Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen)
Ill Wind Blowing (from Brain Capers sessions)
CD bonus tracks
Moving On (post-Brain Capers session 24 Jan 1972)
The Debt (B side of Midnight Lady June 1971, sad, heartfelt song)
Downtown (from Brain Capers sessions)
… so that concludes the Island Years. Now, about that Mr Bowie …