Mick Ralphs – On The Run 1984-2013 (4CD Set)


If a certain Danish brewery company made rock groups they would make bands like Mott The Hoople and Bad Company and if it composed songs they would sound like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough’ and that is exactly what Mick Ralphs did back in the day. Ralphs played on all of the Mott The Hoople albums but left in 1973 during the recording of their final release (The Hoople). As though playing with one world class frontman wasn’t enough he then went on to form Bad Company with former Free vocalist Paul “The Voice” Rodgers and stayed with them until 1982 when the original band folded. In later years Ralphs went on to play with the re-formed versions of both of these bands as well as having a stint in Dave Gilmour’s touring outfit for his About Face tour (Ralphs did not play on the album). Between those musical excursions he also managed to release five solo (and Blues Band) albums the first four of which are contained inside this latest Cherry Red Records box set, On The Run 1984-2013.

Chasing the classic album was never going to be easy and opening proceedings with Take This! (1984) shows Ralphs as a skilled multi-instrumentalist if not as the world best vocalist. With a little help from his friends including former Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke Take This! proves that Ralphs still has the chops with opener ‘All It Takes’ which has the riffs but lacks a little of the power of his previous outfits and leans more on the slide/blues licks which becomes a bit of a theme and shapes the majority of the output here (‘Fast Travelling Man’, ‘On The Run’). Legs are stretched throughout Take This! however via the Bruce Channel cover ‘Hey Baby’ (without the Ooh! Aah!s), funky instrumental ‘Take This’ which laid the foundation for 2001’s It’s All Good, ‘Last Chance Saloon’s lazy country, ballad ‘Another Lonely Day’ and the soft rockers ‘Give You My Love’ and ‘All Across The Nile’ (previously unreleased bonus track) which will appeal to fans of Snowy White. The only place we see the slightest grimmer of his previous greatness is on the glammy ‘Rock Fever’ and ‘When The Revolution Comes’ but even this sounds better in its raw work in progress state which can be found within the ten bonus tracks where you will also find the other top track contender ‘Rock ‘n’ Roller’ which features twice with the working mix including fiddle in place of the slide guitar of its finished version.

Due to “other commitments” (Bad Company reunion between 1986 and 1999) It would be 17 years until the next solo release and from the first strains of It’s All Good (2001) it sounds like a totally different beast to the debut. Opener S.E.X could give Satriani a run for his money where as ‘Jazz-Wah’ and ‘Don’t Need Money’ introduce plenty of funk but still ram the fiery guitar-work to the fore. All instrumental and all played by the main man himself this album is more than a guitar hero’s noodlings as Ralphs shows off his skills across all instruments, including some remarkable piano licks on tracks like the jazzy ‘Jessica’, ‘Barking Mad’ and ‘Large!’, as well as across all styles on the live ‘Hideaway’ from Bad Company’s 1999 US tour where we find Ralphs in his happy place playing the blues and on ‘Train Wreck’ where guitar/piano interplay is the order of the day. Okay the drum (machine?) may be a little high profile in some places but I think this can be forgiven. Bonus tracks (as with the 2001 Angel Air re-issue) come in the shape of the very short but sweet ‘Gravy Booby’ (only 1:01) the organ/guitar play-off of ‘Coming Up The Hill’ and the ‘S.E.X’ reprise ‘More S.E.X’ (S.E.X minus guitars). The only thing to say about It’s All Good is “yes it is” on the whole.

By 2003 Ralphs was all loved up and in the words of Mick R. taken from the sleeve notes “These are some of the songs I’ve written and recorded at home over the past 2/3 years. All instruments and vocals by myself (?!) and inspired by my dear Suzi x”. That’s Life – Can’t Get Enough does sounds like a man in a comfortable place but maybe to comfortable and as we find here emotional bliss doesn’t necessarily deliver a moving result for the listener. Opening in the place we know Ralphs feels happiest ‘Under Pressure’ is his kind of blues before ‘For My Baby’ adds a little swing and some cracking guitar. Next the Clapton style slow blues of ‘Our Time’ rolls into the all to similar tones of ‘A To Z’ and you start to realise that you miss the backing of a quality band and the voice of a Hunter/Rogers type frontman. This really is a collection of demos and rough cuts which is little more than a diary of the couples love affair. Sweet but hardly rock ‘n’ roll or even blues. There are high points in the shape of the Stonesy ‘Hey Hey’, the ZZ chops of ‘Ain’t It Good?’ and bonus track ‘Budgie’ an instrumental out-take from 1977 featuring Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Company) on drums and Boz Burrell (King Crimson, Bad Company) on bass allowing Ralphs the chance to do what he does best. The bonuses also include a 1970 demo version of ‘Can’t Get Enough’ which is interesting but a shadow of the anthem it would become. Small acorns.

Finally Should Know Better – Live At The Musician (2013) jumps from the speakers and Mick Ralphs is back in the room… back on the stage… and back with a band (The Mick Ralphs Blues Band). Combining a set of originals (‘Should Know Better’, Well Connected) and blues standards (‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, ‘Just A Little Bit Of Love’, ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’, ‘Evil’), don’t expect any Bad Company or Mott covers as this is a group of like-minded musicians doing what they do best… the blues. Stuart ‘Son’ Maxwell (Storm Warning, Shufflepack) is well up to the job of belting out these rocking tunes as well as supplying appropriate harmonica alongside Jim Maving on guitar/slide, Dicky Baldwin on bass and Adam Perry on drums to keep the Leicester crowd bouncing throughout and with the pressure off Ralphs shoots for the stars especially on the belting finale of ‘Big River’ a track lifted from Storm Warning’s Take Cover album. This disc is definitely the pinnacle of the collection and is worth the cover price alone. All killer, no filler. Yes you Should Know Better.

Ralphs played dates with the Mike Ralphs Blues Band from 2011 and released the If It Ain’t Broke album in 2016 with them he also returned to Mott The Hoople for live shows in 2013. The last activity featuring the guitarist and Bad Company was in 2016 but shortly after their London show it was announced that he had been hospitalised following a stroke. Since then little has been heard of the now 79 year old guitarist. As they say “no news is good news” so we wish him all the best and look back on what is an astonishing legacy which includes this solo material. Although you may have to search a little for the (rough) diamonds within this set I for one “Can’t Get Enough” of Mick Ralphs.

  • Reviewed By Peter Brockwell.
  • On The Run 1984-2013 is released via Cherry Red Records on 24th November 2023.

Track List:

Disc One – Take This!

1. All It Takes
2. Hey Baby
3. Take This
4. Give You My Love
5. Fast Travelling Man
6. On The Run
7. Last Chance Saloon
8. Rock Fever
9. When The Revolution Comes
10. Another Lonely Day
Bonus Tracks:
11. Rock ‘n’ Roller (Previously Unreleased)
12. All Across The Nile (Previously Unreleased)
13. All It Takes (Working Mix)
14. Give You My Love (Working Mix)
15. On The Run (Working Mix)
16. Last Chance Saloon (Working Mix)
17. When The Revolution Comes (Working Mix)
18. Another Lonely Day (Demo)
19. Rock ‘n’ Roller (Working Mix)
20. All Across The Nile (Working Mix)

Disc Two – It’s All Good

2. Barking Mad
3. Don’t Need Money
4. Jessica
5. Hideaway (Live)
6. Jazz-Wah
7. Train Wreck
8. Large!

Bonus Tracks:

9. Gravy Booby

10. Coming Up The Hill

11. More S.E.X

Disc Three – That’s Life – Can’t Get Enough

1. Under Pressure
2. For My Baby
3. Our Time
4. A To Z
5. You And Me
6. Hey Hey
7. Everybeat
8. Nobody Knows Me
9. Ain’t It Good?
10. Fool For Your Loving
11. That’s Life
Bonus Tracks:
12. Budgie (Outtake 1977)
13. Can’t Get Enough (Demo 1970)

Disc FourShould Know Better

1. Should Know Better
2. Born Under A Bad Sign
3. Just A Little Bit Of Love
4. Shame Shame Shame
5. Evil
6. Well Connected
7. Big River


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