IT’S NO JOKE – Ronnie Lane, one of the original Small Faces, the heart and soul of The Faces and the pioneering troubadour of Slim Chance, was born on April 1st. God bless ya, Ronnie…you are sorely missed.
If you want to know how it all began, you have to start at the beginning, and why not hear it from the band in their own words? Check out this audio history of The Small Faces – a real treat. Room for Ravers also has a lengthy written history about their origins. Of course I highly recommend All The Rage, Ian McLagan’s own book and one of the best rock bios ever written. It’s as close to sitting in the pub sharing a pint as you will ever get, an absolute must-read for any fan of the era.
If you’re not familiar with the Small Faces catalogue, you’ll be fascinated by (1) just how much great music they made in such a short time, and (2) how incredible it is that they did not dominate the American pop scene of the late 1960s. See what crooked management will get you? Please beware when looking for product – most of the seemingly endless greatest hits titles are pirated copies of their work (as in the band sees not a penny). Do the right thing and only purchase the album versions vouched for by the band. Kenney Jones and Mac have worked long and hard to rectify the situation after decades of being robbed blind.
The Faces years were wild and woolly and wonderful, and as much as I loved the drunken recklessness of “Borstal Boys” and “Stay With Me”, the three songs that reverberate above all others were Lane tunes. “Debris”is simply one of the most beautiful songs ever written, a winsome look back at his relationship with his Dad, but a poignant sadness that could apply to anybody’s broken relationship. And was there a better song about looking back, older but wiser, than “Ooh La La“? But for pure rowdy fun, none are better than “You’re So Rude”, about an aborted attempt to get a little while the folks are out. If you don’t own the Faces albums and/or the box set Five Guys Walk Into A Bar, you have a huge gap in your record library. (And yes, I will be posting a full length essay on The Faces in the near future)
My Pop Culture Press compadre Kent Benjamin has written some great features about Lane and McLagan over the years, and as a fellow Austinite, he is well-versed in their post-Faces lore. Back in 2000 he posted his liner notes to a Lane project on Perfect Sound Forever about how Ronnie moved to Austin, Texas in the hope that the weather would alleviate his suffering and permit him to continue to perform music at his self-imposed high standards. But the project that will stand tall above all others was the DVD of The Passing Show, a wonderful documentary about the life and music of Ronnie Lane that beautifully captures the heart and soul of the man.
In 2006, on what would have been Ronnie’s 60th birthday, his bandmate and lifelong friend Ian McLagan released Spiritual Boy, a collection of Lane songs lovingly performed by Ian and the Bump Band. I just saw Mac and band play a month ago, and I can vouch for the fact that Ronnie Lane is there in spirit, every night, all night.
And as for me…Ronnie Lane’s music will be on my playlist until I ditch this mortal coil. Cheers, mate!
“Thank you kindly/for thinking of me/If I’m not smiling…I’m just thinking…”