The finest of all the pre-CD Mott the Hoople compilations, the double album Shades Of is also notable as the first of many releases to combine the best of the band's post-1972 material with material by vocalist Ian Hunter alone -- he recorded three albums for Columbia following his departure from the group, each of which is highlighted here, together with a clutch of Mott tracks which had never before appeared on album. These include the U.K. B-sides "Rose," "Where Do You All Come From," and "Rest in Peace," and American single edits of "One of the Boys," "Sweet Jane," and "All the Way From Memphis," but the jewel in the crown has to be a live version of "Marionette," recorded at the same show as side one of the Mott Live album, but omitted from that album. For many Mott fans, that track alone was worth the price of admission. Depending upon which side of the Atlantic one lived, however, the remainder of the set also repaid the investment. Having traced Mott's career through to the final salvo of "Foxy Foxy" and "Saturday Gigs," the album then launches into a generous swathe of Hunter material, beginning with the U.K. hit single "Once Bitten Twice Shy," from his eponymous debut album, then progressing through two further tracks apiece from that set and the follow-up All American Boy -- including the mighty "You Nearly Did Me In," a collaboration between Hunter and Queen mainstaysFreddie Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor. Some of the best, however, was reserved for last. The 1977 album Overnight Angels, Hunter's last for the label, barely registered in the U.S., and anybody experiencing, for the first time, the likes of "Justice of the Peace" and "Wild N' Free" must certainly have been wondering why -- both represented some of Hunter's most archetypal swaggering work in some years. Even better was "England Rocks," a U.K.-only 45 which would ultimately evolve into one ofHunter's best-loved live standards, "Cleveland Rocks." Like several other vinyl-era Mott collections, Shades Of has today been utterly overshadowed by sundry CD collections -- its own CD counterpart was deleted in the early 1990s. No other collection, however, comes even close to recapturing the skillful blend of hits and rarities, band work, and solo material which Shades Of so effortlessly created. Plus, it had a great sleeve as well.