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| 22 May 2018 | Reply

MVD Visuals, DVD & BluRay,
Directed by Jon Brewer
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

A fascinating and in-depth portrayal of the career of Mick Ronson, which paints the guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer as a lovely, down to earth guy, stellar influential musician not given his credit nor his financial dues thanks to the ruthlessness of David Bowie and manager Tony DeFries.

Forever remembered as Bowie’s guitarist, Ronson was far more.

Filmmaker Jon Brewer briefly managed Bowie early in his career, and his familiarity with Ronson, Lou Reed, Tony Visconti, Rick Wakeman, Mick Rock and Ian Hunter is what makes this movie so revealing.

Brewer gets very personal with his talking heads, including Ronson’s partner, but never sensationally intrusive: Beside Bowie is reverential and honest, giving an essential understanding of not only the man, but his contributions to Bowie’s work, as well as Reed, John Mellencamp, Morrisey, Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter and other collaborators.

Bowie wouldn’t be Bowie without Ronson, and his dumping after Ziggy Stardust was a travesty, not least because he was denied recognition for his contributions as well as royalties. Beside Bowie redresses the situation, at least as far as recognition goes, but nothing can replace the difficult life he led as a result of Bowie & DeFries’s selfishness.

Bowie contributes narration here, seemingly equanimical about his role in holding Ronson down. Nice guys often finish last, though – as evidenced by Ronson’s patchy (at best) solo career.

Having Bowie present, the title of the film (no doubt to draw punters in) and the focus of the storyline weigh Beside Bowie too heavily askew on the role Bowie played in Ronson’s life. The rest of his career – ups and downs – seems almost an afterthought or a side note to Brewer, when it really deserves a film all of its own.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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