Angel Air SJPCD 020.
In the mid-60's a group of young hopefuls from Hereford were playing the "dues-paying" circuit in places like Hamburg (Germany) and in Italy where they were met with slightly more success. They went through various line-up changes and name changes, but in late 1966 the Doc Thomas Group (Stan Tippins, Mick Ralphs, Dave Tedstone, Pete Watts and Bob Hall) were booked in to a studio for a day to get their act down on tape. They recorded 20 tracks (all covers) and thought nothing more of it until early in 1967 a 12-track LP was issued (in Italy only). The album sold poorly, as did a single taken from it.
Two years later, with a couple more line-up and name changes later, Silence (Stan Tippins, Mick Ralphs, Pete Watts, Terry Allen, Dale Griffin) auditioned for Guy Stevens at Island Records. Guy liked them and wanted to sign them, but insisted on one more line-up and name change: out went Stan Tippins, in came Ian Hunter, and Mott The Hoople was born...
Somewhere in all the line-ups were The Anchors, The Soulents, Wild Dog's Hellhounds and The Silence. Here the line-up was Pete Watts, Robert Fisher, Paul Jeffery, Patrick Brooke and Dale Griffin. In 1989 the original line-up of The Silence reunited for a day's jam. They enjoyed themselves so much that they reunited again in October 1990 in Rockfield Studios, Monmouth. The intention was to record many of the numbers they used to play back in the 60's (since no recorded material from that period exists).
Most tracks were recorded "live" with only a few overdubs, but they all enjoyed themselves immeasurably. The tracks were mixed, but there wasn't really any intention of releasing the product commerically, despite the strength of the material contained therein. Until now...
I'll comment first on the DTG tracks first. This is about as far from Mott The Hoople as you're going to get. The style is very mid-60's beat/pop. The performance is strong and clear, since these tracks were recorded almost "live" in the studio. A press release at the time stated that both mono and stereo copies of the LP would be available. However, no stereo copies have ever been sighted. The master tapes for this LP have disappeared (three years searching proved fruitless), but happily Campbell Devine was able to supply a mint LP which was used for this CD. Sound quality is therefore excellent.
The Silence tracks are very good indeed. Pete Watts reverts to playing lead guitar, and he plays a blinder, also supplying some strong backing vocals. Buff's drumming is as strong as ever, and Patrick Brooke's vocals are clear and strong, despite having to lay down "guide" vocals as well as the real thing.
Sleeve notes are by Campbell Devine lavish and informative. Unless you invest in the MTH box set, this is your only opportunity to hear Stan ("the Sinatra of beat" as he was known in Italy) sing. However, given that the music is somewhat removed from MTH I'll give this CD a "for completists only" tag.Adrian Perkins