Cherry Red CRCDBOX85
1 recorded The Rainbow Theatre, London 22nd/23rd February 1974
2 recorded Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg Germany 9th February 1990
3 recorded Ford Auditorium, Detroit MI 28th April 1975
4 recorded My Father's Place, Roslyn NY 12th June 1979
1 recorded Century Theater, Buffalo NY 15th December 1976
Mick Ronson is one of the unsung guitar heroes of the 1970's, a man who by rights should be up there in the public conciousness with Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. He shot to fame, of course, as David Bowie's guitar player during the "Ziggy Stardust" era. So when David disbanded the Spiders in 1973, the question arose - what to do next? With matinee idol looks the answer was - launch a solo career. Slaughter On 10th Avenue in 1974 was the result, but the subsequent tour revealed that Mick was not a natural front-man. Play Don't Worry followed in 1975, but worry he did. Preferring to work as a side-man again, he worked first with Ian Hunter and then Bob Dylan before throwing himself into production work.
Strange, because both of those albums are actually rather good. Whether it is with cover versions (eg Love Me Tender or Angel No. 9) or his own compositions (Only After Dark, Billy Porter) the track selection and delivery are both strong. And yet (in his words) he "knocked it all on the head". Following his untimely death from cancer in 1993 a wealth of material (mostly dating from 1976) was discovered in the vaults, showing he didn't fully give up on solo work. They were subsequently given a release in 1999 as Just Like This and Showtime, included here as 1976 Sessions and Rarities. The former is, if anything, the best of the lot. I said at the time that it contained "crunching rock guitar, beautiful soaring solos [and] great songs" and I haven't changed my mind one bit.
The package includes an excellent and informative booklet, written by someone who clearly is familiar with Mick's work and his career. In fact, the only fault I can find with the whole package is that the dates of the live material on disc 1 are (the Rainbow tracks excepted) wrong, possibly because they were wrong on previous releases - the dates I've given above are correct. But all in all this is an excellent package and anyone interested in Mick's solo work should start here.