Play Don't Worry
March 27, 1975
by John Mendelsohn
Having been extensively impressed by this geezer when he was with - and in all ways an exemplary foil for - Dave Bowie, one is shocked and greatly saddened to discover that Play Don't Worry is nearly indisputably the work of a distinctly nonmajor talent-in-his-own-right. Ronson's obvious long suit is his guitar work, which frequently betrays a macabre sense of outrage vastly (and one suspects, quite consciously ) reminiscent of Jeff Beck's. Tragically, what with acoustic guitar predominating throughout much of the current proceedings, there's distressingly little Beck bowdlerization present here.
This leaves too much up to Ronson's voice. When he's not emulating the giddily androgynous yelping style Bowie popularized before deciding that he was Same and Dave, Ronno is simply without distinction vocally or, worse yet, trying to croon--in which mode he often barely avoids going out of tune. Given the material represented here, it might be just as well: The appeal of the nonoriginals may be a secret shared only by him and the authors and his own compositions are basically just rhythms or attempts at atmosphere. The album's obvious nadir is 'Io Me Ne Andrei' ('The Empty Bed'), a rather tedious and overblown Italian ballad for which Mick wrote not especially notable English lyrics.
Truth be told, the only track on the album one can envision himself ever yearning to hear again is an amusingly ultra-bombastic retread of the Velvet's 'White Light/White Heat,' which Mick sings as though half-eaten popsicles are being dropped down the back of his shirt.
Particularly in view of the assurances of more conscientious Rononphiles that Play Don't Worry is loads better than his first solo album, one wonders how Ronson rates having had the full force of Colonel Tony Defries and MainMan flung behind him. Of course, the same thing was wondered about Dana Gillespie. And by the time this reaches print Mick might be a Rolling Stone. So one mustn't leap to conclusions.