Showtime 

Showtime

Mick Ronson

Mick Ronson fans waited a long time for new music from their idol -- more than 15 years separated his second solo album from his third, and five more stretched between his death and the full opening of his archive. Once the releases began, however, they quickly became a flood and it is only to be regretted that few of the releases actually lived up to Ronson's own reputation. Showtime's liner notes don't inspire one with confidence. Claiming that the tapes of Ronson's own planned live album, back in 1974, have been lost (despite sizeable excerpts appearing on a succession of recent compilations and remasters), they justify Showtime's low-fi sound quality with the assurance that anything's better than nothing. Which might be true if Ronson's guitar playing was actually audible. Unfortunately, the seven tracks recorded live in Buffalo in 1976, which open the disc, offer only an adequate representation of how the original performance must have sounded. While a rocking version of the Move's "Hey Grandma" makes an intriguing addition to the Ronson canon halfway through Showtime, this collection is for collectors only. Things do get better. Three tracks from a 1989 Hunter/Ronson gig, highlighting Ronson's solo spot midway through the show, are well-recorded and superbly executed, with the Velvet Underground's "White Light White Heat" and, amazingly, Johnny Moped's "Darling, Let's Have Another Baby" serving up two very contrasting visions of the man, which are then put into more conventional focus by a storming "Slaughter On 10th Avenue"." Available only with the first 5,000 copies, a bonus second disc then rounds up four tracks recorded in Sweden in 1991, including a tremendous "FBI" and a loose "Don't Look Down"." A 30 minute interview is enjoyable, and "Angel #9" (recorded in 1979) wraps things up in style. All of which will eagerly be snatched up by Ronson collectors, but only because beggars can't be choosers. The real magic of Mick is a long way from this particular release. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

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