Monday, June 11, 2018


This is the companion soundtrack to a new documentary about the under-praised and often-overlooked hero of the Spiders From Mars, Mick Ronson. He's best known as Bowie's foil on those early albums, first appearing on The Man Who Sold The World, and then Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, and Pin-Ups. His role was far more than simply the guitar player Bowie leaned on, literally and figuratively. The soft-spoken, simple gent from Hull was blessed with tremendous talent and classical training, and conceiving of many of the arrangements and ideas on those Bowie classics, as well as many iconic solos.

That's just the start though, as this soundtrack points out. His music-making included an early take of Elton John's Madman Across The Water (unreleased at the time, but later included on a reissue) that he absolutely owns. There are his own solo albums, which all had moments, and his long partnership with Mott The Hoople's Ian Hunter, including the gigantic Once Bitten, Twice Shy. Even this collection doesn't tell the whole story though, as Ronson's productions included Lou Reed's best solo album, Transformer, John Mellancamp's American Fool, and Morrissey's Your Arsenal. In each case those artists have praised Ronson for being absolutely full of great ideas that greatly helped the albums. Mellancamp goes to great length explained how Ronson turned a junk-heap song, Jack and Diane, into a huge hit with his arrangement ideas.

With all that to consider, the soundtrack is a bit underwhelming, the Ronson solo tracks not that well chosen, and a couple of tribute tunes from pals Joe Elliot of Def Leppard and Mike Garson of Bowie's groups nice but not necessary. Of more interest is the inclusion of two cuts from the Freddie Mercury tribute concert held in 1992 in Wembley Stadium, Ronson once again at his old bosses' side for All The Young Dudes and Heroes. Ronson himself died a year later from liver cancer. Can't wait to see this doc.

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