Tag Archives: Ooh La La

T.G.I.F. – The April Fool

No jokes…just respect and a ton of warm memories.

Happy Birthday, Ronnie Lane, who would have been 65 today. No need to wax poetic, as I’ve done this already over the years, but when you want to make a list of underrated songwriters his should be near the top. I was bummed when he quit The Faces but later realized it was a statement of integrity on his part. A man of quiet dignity; he suffered greatly during his too-short life but always held his head up high and was a mate’s mate. I wish I knew him, we never met – but through his music I feel like I do and I have.

So today while people try to one-up each other with absurd pranks and lies, I will instead give you Ten April Fools – ten Ronnie Lane songs to enjoy forever.

(01) – “Ooh La La

(02) – “Barcelona

(03) – “You Never Can Tell

(04) – “How Come

(05) – “One For The Road

(06) – “The Poacher

(07) – “Annie

(08) – “Richmond

(09) – “Anymore For Anymore

(10) – “Debris

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Blast From The Past: The Faces

Although I much prefer to promote the original albums and the full box set, as well as just about all of the non-Rod solo efforts (McLagan’s work, in particular, is stellar and underpublicized), when this best-of came out it was a step in the right direction. (Not a First Step, mind you.). Later, the box set I pined for finally came out under the title Five Guys Walk Into a Bar…

So as I’m ramping up to full warp party speed for Thursday, I need to blast some music. And if you think rock, party and alcohol, you think of one band – The Faces. Now allow me to send you back in time – twelve years for the review in Consumable Online, and four decades for the music itself.

Long before Rod The Mod became a balladeer (and I mean that in a bad way) and Ronnie Wood traded anorexic guitar poses with his evil twin Keith Richards, they were two-fifths of The Faces, a group that was either the best band in the world or the drunkest band…or maybe both (it depends upon whether The Kinks were playing that night). First formed as a group of jilted musical lovers, three Steve Marriott-less Small Faces absorbed two Jeff Beck Group castoffs and caroused their way to rock and roll history.

I tell you this because I was there. If you had to rely on the printed word, or the record racks, or (gulp!) the airwaves, you’d never know. Rhino Records bellied-up to the bar on your behalf with a single disc “best of” collection, and they’ve even thrown in a previously unreleased song to sweeten the pot. Dave Marsh, God bless him, scribed the reverential liner notes and throws his hat in the ring on their behalf. But for me, it’s bittersweet — a dynamic, earth-shattering, genuine slice of rock and roll’s foundation gets another breath of life…but it’s a nineteen track CD, not a three or four disc box set.

That said, this collection is a credible addition even if you have some or all of the Faces titles, and if you have not dipped your toe in these beer-soaked waters yet, it’s a good place to start. With any collection, you’re going to get the obvious must-have’s and agonize over the why-couldn’t-they-fit-that-in-too’s, but it’s hard to argue with the selection Good Boys offers. Rightfully grabbing the lion’s share from A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse, the midsection of this chronologically organized platter gives us the band at their rollicking best. The 1-2-3 punch of “Miss Judy’s Farm,” “You’re So Rude” and “Too Bad” is as balls to the wall powerful now as then, as is the classic “Stay With Me”, the definitive Wood/Stewart romp.

The three cuts from the embryonic First Step are solid (and one is an alternate version), and only “Memphis” from Long Player or “My Fault” from Ooh La La are missed in these circumstances. Including the final two singles “Pool Hall Richard” and “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything,” is a no-brainer, and the sweet and pretty “Open To Ideas” is a perfect coda to this too-short journey.

Who knows if the rumors of Rod hoarding his “better material” were really true, but it’s interesting to think how much longer The Faces would have stuck it out if they got more credit and had more hits. (One thing for certain — if Rod tried to stick “D’ya Think I’m Sexy” on a Faces album he’d have gotten his ass…er, arse…kicked!) Even though they were staples of the Faces repertoire, many recognizable songs like “I Know I’m Losing You” and “True Blue” could not be included here because they were from Rod’s “solo” career. But what about the outtakes, the live cuts, the BBC sessions?

Ahh….there I go again talking about box sets instead of thanking Rhino for letting all the Replacements and Black Crowes fans see where the roots of their trees lie. And I’ll admit it: when I think of all the old bands getting together for the bucks after years away from the limelight (do we really need more Journey and Styx songs?), a small but hopeful flame burns in my heart that one day these lads will rise again as well.

Unfortunately, Ronnie Lane’s recent tragic death from MS rules out reuniting the original lineup; the closest thing we’ve gotten to that was Stewart’s Unplugged performance. But if the other four were ever up for it, hell – I’ll scour every corner bar looking for Tetsu Yamauchi. And if I can’t find him, I’ll get a rooster haircut, some velvet pants and a glass of bourbon and play the damn bass myself.

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Remembering Ronnie Lane – The April Fool

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.

My Mum, she likes you, she thinks you're swell...

My Mum, she likes you, she thinks you're swell...

 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.

This film will make you laugh and will break your heart

This film will make you laugh and will break your heart

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…”

april-fool

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