European Ending

Precious little evidence survives from the last months of Mott The Hoople, with Mick Ronson replacing the recently departed Ariel Bender - the "Saturday Gigs" single was backed by a medley distilled from the Bender era’s live album, and the only other track the new line-up cut together, "Lounge Lizard," would remain in the vault for the next twenty years. The short European tour that was the unit’s sole live outing is similarly under-represented, with just a handful of audience tapes known to be out there, and that is where European Ending comes from, distilling the best of two shows (in Sweden and France) into one solid disc.

The "best" is an operative term. The band sounds distinctly under-rehearsed - "Roll Away The Stone" is one of several songs that descends into a mess. Ronson is frequently as out of key as the backing vocals, and the sound quality wanders from readily acceptable on some songs, to fairly abysmal on others. Rather than attempt to illustrate two shows, European Ending would have been far stronger had there been some more quality control in that regard. On the plus side, however, this is the only source for versions of both "Saturday Gigs" and "Lounge Lizard," while Ronson himself is spotlighted first on a tremendous version of "Angel #9," from his then-forthcoming Play Don’t Worry album (Bender used to enjoy a similar showcase, with "Here Comes The Queen"), and later, on a seemingly spontaneous rendering of Hendrix’s "Voodoo Chile."

The result is an album that you probably won’t play for pleasure too often, but which every Mott fan needs to own, if only to complete the story. Because, unlike a lot of bands, this was one group whose every chapter is worth perusing. - Dave Thompson

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