Mick Ronson: Only After Dark review – Bowie sidekick’s moment to shine
Only After Dark: the Complete Recordings
One of rock music’s most unenthusiastic solo stars, guitarist Mick Ronson – who died in 1993 at the age of 46 – came to prominence as the de facto musical director of the group of musicians David Bowie used for several of his early 1970s albums, not least Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane.
Contracted by the same management (Mainman), Ronson – a dazzling, daring guitarist within a group context – was deemed suitable for grooming as a hitmaker in his own right, and so released two albums: Slaughter on 10th Avenue (1974) and Play Don’t Worry (1975).
Each had its highlights (the Bowie-accredited Growing Up and I’m Fine and Music Is Lethal on the former; Ronson’s own Billy Porter on the latter), but he just wasn’t comfortable under the spotlight, which is why he soon returned to band formats: the warm camaraderie of Mott the Hoople and a rather more chilly stint with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
Only After Dark is all you need and more: a well-presented four-disc curio for Bowie fans, perhaps, but also a fascinating insight into what makes (or doesn’t) a rock star.