Fans Can’t Get Enough Of Maestro Mick

Mick Ralphs is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s survivors.
The guitarist started out in the golden age of the mid-’60s and was a founder member of Mott The Hoople, the thinking man’s band of the glam era who recorded the first and still best version of David Bowie’s All The Young Dudes.
At the peak of Mott’s commercial success in August 1973 Ralphs decided he’d had enough and walked away.
The move from a quirky, quintessentially English sound to an expansive American-style hard rock supergroup with a soulful R&B edge said everything about the six-stringer’s single-mindedness and need to move on to different musical expanses.
 His devotion to Bad Company has been a theme in Ralphs’ career for over 40 years now, but he’s been about so much more, having also collaborated with giants like George Harrison and Dave Gilmour.
Now at a time of life when the easy option would be to trot out endless retreads of former glories, and with contemporaries such as Harrison, Boz Burrell and the recently departed Bowie and Dale Griffin sadly no longer with us, it’s pleasing to report that 71-year-old Ralphs is again pushing at the margins.
He’s just released If It Ain’t Broke, the first album proper from his Mick Ralphs Blues Band which takes the buzz generated by the five-piece since they started playing live five years ago and gives it the full studio treatment.
Their gig at the Green Hotel in Kinross was an opportunity to hear cuts from the CD at one of Scotland’s best small venues and the new material showed up strongly alongside a few classics from the Mick Ralphs back catalogue.
If It Ain’t Broke pays homage to the bluesmen who have been a key influence on Ralphs, and If It Ain’t Broke’s Shakey Ground and Roll The Dice were performed with all the bump and grind you’d expect from the form’s most expert exponents.
Case Hardin guitarist Jim Maving provided an excellent foil for the legend, with his dynamic stylings giving MRBB an added Americana angle and allowing Ralphs to give maximum rein to his renowned solos.
With a muscular rhythym section comprising bassist Dickie Baldwin and Damon Sawer on drums keeping things moving at a fast pace, songs like Well Connected and a cover of JP Lenoir’s Talk To Your Daughter – with the latter incorporating a feelgood backing spot from the Green’s audience – were like rays of sunshine amid the late-January gloom.
The jigsaw is completed by Adam Barron, a former contestant on BBC’s The Voice, who joined the band less than 18 months ago.
His voice stood out at Kinross for its clarity and range throughout, and anyone closing their eyes during a rendition of Bad Company’s Too Bad could have been forgiven for thinking Paul Rodgers was in the house.
 Open them again during one of Ralphs’ delicious solos, and you’d have seen the singer throwing in a few dodgy moves that involved him doubling up and shaking his fulsome mane like a hound with earache.
Wearing his trademark World Poker Tour shirt and jeans, Ralphs remained largely quiet between songs, happily allowing the bearded Barron to do the talking, which inevitably included some good natured banter aimed at his more senior bandmates.
 A sultry, acoustic rendering of T-Bone Walker’s 1947 blues standard Stormy Monday by Maving and the vocalist was a departure amid the otherwise shamelessly high-octane electrified thrills on offer, and it was rightly well received.
The band split their performance into two sets and a half-time breather seemed to re-energise Ralphs for the run-in and he took centre stage from Barron to work his fret board to a frenzy on Hideaway, the much-loved Freddie King instrumental groover.
Going Down from the new album went down a storm, as did a super-smooth turn of Bad Company anthem Can’t Get Enough which had everyone present out of their seats.
A pumped-up version of Robert Johnson’s Sweet Home Chicago and Ralphs’ signature tune Feel Like Making Love in all its epic, widescreen glory brought the curtain down on a memorable gig.
It was a night when it felt like we’d been given a wonderful lesson in the history of blues rock by one of the greats.
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