Running time: 67m 26s
Hard on the heels of Just Like This, NMC's posthumous CD of unreleased Mick Ronson tracks from 1976 comes another postumous release, this time of unreleased live material featuring Mick Ronson.
This CD was recorded at various venues at different stages in Mick's career. The first seven tracks date from 1976, when Mick was opening at the Buffalo Century Theatre. Those seven tracks are all from that album, and showcase Mick's guitar work brilliantly. The sound on these tracks is in mono, which suggests an audience tape, but the quality is otherwise very good, with little distortion evident and crowd noise never intrudes, so maybe it comes from the mixing desk.
The remaining tracks are taken from various shows with Ian Hunter, mostly in 1989 (although FBI dates from 1979). This time they're all in stereo, and taken from "proper" sources. Sweet Dreamer is brilliant, a similar arrangement to that on the BBC Live In Concert disc and played with the same passion and feeling.
FBI is business-like, but is in the wrong place, as it breaks up the running order of Mick's "solo spot" from the San Jose show. I would have preferred it before Sweet Dreamer, where it would have acted as "set opener" for the second half of the disc.
White Light White Heat (from the same show) is Mick's rendition of the Velvet Underground classic, with Mick on vocals. For me this doesn't work, Mick's vocals being a shadow of what they were some 15 years before. Ditto Darling..., an amusing punk song again with Mick on vocals, proving (if proof be needed) that Mick was one heck of a guitarist but not really a singer.
The CD's closing track, Slaughter On 10th Avenue is awesome and played with such power and feeling few guitarists before or since can ever hope to match. This is credited in the booklet as "Live In Hamburg", but on the outer sleeve as San Jose - I believe the outer sleeve to be correct.
Sleeve notes are by Campbell Devine and are a notch down on his usual standards. It gives just a brief synopsis of Mick and various press tributes to him. There is very little background information on the recordings themselves or the musicians used (at one point we are referred out to the sleeve notes for Just Like This!).
Initial copies come with a second CD (54m 04s) which contains five more live tracks and a Mick Ronson interview. FBI (3:59), Take a Long Line (3:30), Trouble With You, Trouble With Me (6:00) and Don't Look Down (5:55) were all recorded in Stockholm in 1991 where Mick was trying out material that would eventually be recorded for Heaven and Hull. Sound quality here is a couple of notches down on the main disc, since the source is an audience recording, but is still quite listenable being well balanced tone-wise (although in mono), with little distortion or excessive crowd noise.
A 30-minute interview follows, the disc closing with Angel No 9 (another audience recording, but again listenable). The interview isn't credited or dated, but the final song is credited Ford Auditorium 28th April 1979 - I believe this to be wrong and to be from 28th April 1975 (when they did in fact play that venue). Infuriatingly, this is tacked on to the end of track 5 making it difficult to cue up on its own.
So, to summarise: a belated and, I think, rushed Mick Ronson live album that will appeal to fans of Mick (and Ian!), but maybe not to the casual rock fan.Adrian Perkins