Mott The Hoople and Ian Hunter

The Rats CD: "The Rise And Fall of Bernie Gripplestone and the Rats From Hull"

Sleeve and track listing

Angel Air SJPCD022 (56:47). (4 stars!)

  1. Spoonful (Dixon) (2:18)
  2. I've Got My Eyes On You Baby (Marshall) (2:31)
  3. I've Gotta See My Baby (Andrews) (2:25)
  4. New Orleans (Trad, arr. Harvey) (2:19)
  5. The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone (Rats) 1 (4:03)
  6. Stop Get A Hold Of Myself (McCoy) 1 (3:07)
  7. Guitar Boogie (Berry) 1 (4:28)
  8. Morning Dew (Dobson/Rose) 1 (3:42)
  9. Early In Spring (Rats) 1 (4:10)
  10. Telephone Blues (Mayall) 1 (4:07)
  11. It Ain't Easy (Davies) 2 (3:44)
  12. I Feel Free (Bruce/Brown) 2 (4:49)
  13. The Hunter (Cropper/Dunne) 3 (4:32)
  14. Colour Me (Morris/Ronson) 3 (5:24)
  15. Life's A River (Morris/Ronson) 3 (4:58)

Running time: 56m 46s

1 Mick Ronson on guitar

2 Recorded live at the Mick Ronson Memorial Concert, Hammersmith Apollo, 29th April 1994

3 Bonus track, recorded 1998


It is a sad fact of life that more attention seems to be paid to musicians after they have died than when they were alive, and that everything they recorded seems to take on a mythical, almost legendary status. So it was not unnatural that after his death due to liver cancer in 1993, there would be renewed interest in Mick Ronson's early career. Hence this welcome release of early Mick Ronson material, which first saw the light of day early in 1995 on vinyl only, and has now been issued on CD.

Mick's rise to fame with David Bowie is of course well known, and his subsequent on-off collaborations with Ian Hunter, not to mention his production work for countless musicians, all of which is well documented elsewhere. What is less well-known is that before Bowie, Mick was playing guitar with The Rats, who hailed from Mick's home town Hull.

The Rats were always good enough to have an agent, but a couple of early attempts at recording singles in the mid-60's didn't result in anything like success, and the resulting line-up changes meant that breakthrough was always going to be elusive.

Another line-up change in 1967 finally brought Mick Ronson on board (something they'd always wanted) and although subsequent recordings were never released, they demonstrate just what a good band they had become. Mick toughened up their guitar sound, and on Guitar Boogie he is given free reign, and really lets it rip. Again on Morning Dew, Mick's style of soloing is clearly distinctive, developing a sound and style that within a few short years would help propel Bowie into the big time.

This is an excellent CD. You get a 20-page booklet detailing The Rats' as well as Mick Ronson's early career, the recording sessions and their tie-up with Bowie, and Mick's subsequent rise to fame. The booklet also includes many photos of the early Rats (and a very young Ronson!). A couple of tracks were taken from acetates, but on the whole the sound quality is excellent.

The Rats reformed specially for the Mick Ronson Memorial Concert, which was held one year after his death at London's Hammersmith Apollo, and the two songs they performed that night are included on this CD. The CD closes with three tracks recorded in 1998 specially for this CD, and show the Rats are as strong as ever.

All in all an excellent package, and an essential purchase for any Mick Ronson fan, or indeed anyone looking to check out one of the finest bands to come from Hull.