These two albums are less than perfect but that never deterred me from enjoying them, regardless of that, Mick Ronson remains one of my favourite musicians.. period.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: Mick Ronson
ALBUM: Slaughter On 10th Avenue/Play Don’t Worry
SERIAL: APL1-0353, APL1-0681
CD REISSUE: 2009, Lemon Records, CDLEM145/CDLEM146 * 1994, Golden Years, GY003 (as a 2 on 1 called ‘Only After Dark’)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Mick Ronson – vocals, guitar, piano * Mike Garson – piano, electric piano, organ * Trevor Bolder – bass, trumpet, trombone * Aynsley Dunbar – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: (Slaughter On 10th Avenue): 01 Love Me Tender * 02 Growing Up And I’m Fine * 03 Only After Dark * 04 Music Is Lethal * 05 I’m The One * 06 Pleasure Man/Hey Ma Get Papa * 07 Slaughter On 10th Avenue
(Play Don’t Worry): 01 Billy Porter * 02 Angel No 9 * 03 This Is For You * 04 White Light/White Heat * 05 Play Don’t Worry * 06 Hazy Days * 07 Girl Can’t Help It * 08 Empty Bed (Lo Me Ne Andrei) * 09 Woman
WEBLINKS: Official Site
Mick Ronson is in my book, one of, if not THE most underrated musician in Rock n Roll history, as the perfect sideman for David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust/Glam Rock pomp and later on with Mott The Hoople‘s Ian Hunter, and working with a list of artists that’s way too long to mention here.
Ronson was not only a guitarist of the highest order, but also a multi instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and producer bar none and who’s influence is still being felt today. These two albums were released in the mid 70’s when Ronson’s star was still shining so very brightly, and in truth finds an artist somewhat uncomfortable with having the spotlight thrust upon him.
It’s not that they are bad albums, far from it, it’s just that I can sense a real unease in the grooves of both records, and he quickly moved on to take up his place as the perfect foil for so many other great artists.
‘Slaughter..’ released in ’74 and with much hype saw Ronson being pushed as ‘the next big thing’, and certainly riding on Bowie’s coat tails didn’t do any harm.. or did it? Most people (myself included) were expecting a Bowie clone album, but we didn’t get that. Although Bowie himself contributed to three of the albums songs this was very much Ronson’s album.
The album kicks off with a sumptuous cover of Elvis Presley‘s ‘Love Me Tender’ which couldn’t be any further from the Great Dame’s work. ‘Growing Up and I’m Fine’ (a Bowie song, that I don’t believe he recorded himself) contains some wonderful lyrics and an impressive arrangement, which is where Ronson really came into his own.
The rest of the album is taken up with Ronson’s trademark muscular guitar playing and breathtaking arrangements. Annette Peacock‘s ‘I’m The One’ being a real delight. We get a suitably OTT arrangement of the title track which is a reworking of the old Richard Rodgers Broadway tune.
‘Play Don’t Worry’ released the year after is a less cohesive affair, but nevertheless contains some real gems. Lead off track ‘Billy Porter’ which amazingly never made the charts is a wonderful nod to his former employer with a suitably camp delivery, which then goes, rather perversely into a cover of Pure Prairie League‘s ‘Angel No 9’.
Not everything works though, a cover of The Velvet Underground‘s, ‘White Light/White Heat’ (which was a left over from Bowie’s ‘Pin Ups’ album) is a bit of a misfire, but that’s more than made up for by the simply gorgeous ‘Empty Bed’ which alone shows how expert Ronson was not only as a musician but as an arranger too.
These two albums are less than perfect but that never deterred me from enjoying them. Regardless of that, Mick Ronson remains one of my favourite musicians.. period.
His contribution to Bowie’s success should never be underestimated and he was one of the most important musical figures of the 1970’s, and his later production work with the likes of The Rich Kids, Morrissey, The Wildhearts etc further enhanced his reputation.
Cruelly taken by cancer at the age of just 46, his last public appearance was at Freddie Mercury’s Tribute concert where (very ill) he played alongside Bowie, Ian Hunter and Queen on ‘All The Young Dudes’ and ‘Heroes’, and every time I watch it, it still reduces me tears, to get all of my early musical heroes on the one stage was a dream come true!
Mick Ronson was a musician cut from a very different sort of cloth and was dare I say it, a genius. To get hold of these albums it’s best to go for the Lemon reissues as they are re-mastered versions and there are 12 bonus tracks spread over the two albums.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
Slaughter On 10th Avenue
Play Don’t Worry
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