Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story Soundtrack

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Music documentary movies rarely get a soundtrack release, typically with good reason. In general, all such a release can ever really amount to is a greatest hits compilation of the documentary's subject. Perhaps if the subject is a particular event and the soundtrack can consist of exclusive live recordings or something similar, or in the case of Dave Grohl's Sound City Studios documentary when he took the time to record a brilliant, star-studded album of new material, something worthwhile can come from such a venture, but most of the time, not, and this is one of those times. In actual fact, in the case of Mick Ronson, a simple greatest hits of his solo work wouldn't have been a terrible idea, as there isn't another one. But it's not that. The attempt is to provide a chronological look at his whole career, from Mott The Hoople to David Bowie and various points in between. The problem of course is Universal Music don't own the rights to most of it, so can only include the bits they do, and those tracks they were able to secure deals on. Therefore, to demonstrate his 1972 arrival on the world stage with Hoople, all they can offer is a live rendition of All The Young Dudes with Ian Hunter, Bowie, and members of Queen and Def Leppard, from the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Maybe an interesting curio for Bowie/Ronson fans, but far from unavailable, and outside of the context of the momentous concert it was part of, not really relevant either. Then there's a token track by Michael Chapman, the early version of Elton John's Madman Across The Water from his Rare Masters compilation, recorded in 1970 (Ronson didn't play on the final version used on the album of the same name the following year), a chunk of three Bowie songs, and an Ian Hunter song, before four tracks from Ronson's 1990s solo albums, one of which was actually recorded in 1976, so ends up out of sync here. There's nothing from Lou Reed's Transformer, from Ronson's own mid-'70s releases, or from the other four albums recorded with Hunter. The albums closes with Joe Elliott's unreleased cover of This Is For You, exclusive to this release, the Mercury Tribute Concert version of Heroes, and a piano tribute to Ronson by Bowie's piano player Mike Garson. These extras are interesting, but not really worth the price of an album, and most of the rest is out of place. Fans who want to listen to Ronson's work with Bowie will listen to a Bowie album, Mott fans the same; there's really no value in putting the two together in such a patchy way. What this needed to be was a showcase of Ronson's own music, and there's precious little of it here. The extra couple of Ronson-less exclusives don't really make up for that.

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2018, Compilation Albums, Quickplay Reviews, Rock, ,

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