Mick Ralphs: “On the Run” Box Set Review – A Journey Through His Solo Career
Mick Ralphs, the iconic guitarist known for his work with Mott the Hoople and Bad Company, has a musical legacy that extends beyond these famous bands. Cherry Red Records, through their HNE imprint, has released a comprehensive box set titled “On the Run,” covering Ralphs’ solo career from 1984 to 2013. This clamshell box set, containing four CDs, offers a deep dive into a lesser-known but significant part of Ralphs’ musical journey.
The box set, “Mick Ralphs: On the Run,” is a neatly packaged collection featuring four CDs, each representing a different phase of Ralphs’ solo career. The CDs are faithful replicas of the original single albums, complete with extra tracks. The set also includes a booklet filled with respect for Mick, track titles, and original texts and photos from the albums’ initial releases. This additional information adds a nice touch, providing context and background to the music.
The first album in the set, “Take This” from 1984, is a collection of great songs with a soft, beautiful vocal delivery by Ralphs. Despite not being the strongest vocalist, his voice adds a unique charm to the tracks. The album includes ten outtakes, all of which maintain the quality of the original album.
The second album, “It’s All Good,” is a standout instrumental album reminiscent of ’80s jazz fusion. The polished production and Ralphs’ expressive guitar work make this album a surprising and delightful discovery. It showcases a side of Ralphs’ musicianship that could have been further explored.
The third album, “That’s Life Can’t Get Enough,” consists of home recordings from this period. This album feels somewhat disjointed, with tracks that seem half-finished or incomplete. It includes an outtake from Bad Company’s “Burning Sky” and a demo of “Can’t Get Enough” from 1970, offering historical insight but not quite matching the quality of the earlier albums.
The final album, “Should Know Better: Live at the Musician,” features the Mick Ralphs Blues Band. While beautifully recorded, Ralphs seems to be in the background, sharing the spotlight with other musicians. This album may not be the showcase of Ralphs’ guitar prowess that some fans might expect.
While the box set “On the Run” is an important part of Mick Ralphs’ musical story, it may not be the best starting point for those new to his work. It’s more suited for completists and fans who are already familiar with his contributions to Mott the Hoople and Bad Company. The first two albums, in particular, are essential for fans, offering a glimpse into Ralphs’ versatility as a musician.
“On the Run” is a testament to Mick Ralphs’ talent and versatility as a guitarist and songwriter. While not every album in the set hits the mark, the collection as a whole provides a comprehensive look at a less celebrated but equally important part of his career. For fans of Ralphs and those interested in exploring the depths of his musical output, this box set from Cherry Red Records is a valuable addition to their collection.
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine