"Heaven and Hull" (Spitfire; 1994)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

David Bowie, Chrissie Hynde, John Mellencamp, Joe Elliott, Ian Hunter. Queen. Any release with those artists would more than likely be counted as a triumph. But, when you add legendary guitarist Mick Ronson to the mix, that praise is guaranteed.

Ronson was involved with some of the greatest rock records and artists ever, including those mentioned above, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter and many more. Sadly, "Heaven and Hull" was Ronson's last album. Recorded in 1993, it was released the following year, shortly after Ronson's death from cancer. 

Still, Ronson's magic shines on "Heaven and Hull." His fretwork is as varied as it is solid. Of course, you'd expect that from someone who played with artists as different as David Bowie and Bob Dylan. 

"Heaven and Hull" almost acts as a tribute album of its own, with the subject of the tribute delivering the heart of the performance. With Ronson on guitars and bass on most tracks (and all instruments on a couple others), his guests usually step up to the microphone, including Bowie on "Like a Rolling Stone," Mellencamp on "Life's a River," Chrissie Hynde joining Ronson for a duet on "Trouble With Me," Joe Elliott on "Don't Look Down" and "Take a Long Line," and Ian Hunter joining Queen on "All the Young Dudes." 

The songs are all classic rockers, as you might guess from the covers performed, with the strangely appropriate inclusion of disco master Giorgio Moroder's "Midnight Love," which is given real humanity here. "All the Young Dudes," mentioned above, appears in its live version from the London Freddie Mercury Concert.

Ronson is one of those artists whose work everyone knew but not enough people knew his name. This CD is a reminder of his great talent and of the respect the big names in the music industry had for him.

For more information, check out http://www.mickronson.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.