Tag Archives: Ronnie Lane

Hall Of Fame for Faces and Small Faces

Well, it’s about fucking time.

The tragedy is that two people who really needed to be there last night missed it. I love both The Small Faces and The Faces and would have given anything to be at their induction, but the stars just didn’t align. As for Rod Stewart, well…hopefully he really had the flu. I’d hate to think his unwillingness to share the spotlight with his former mates had extended beyond reunion tours and all the way to the podium.

Especially because there were two other people who sadly couldn’t be there, because they’ve left this mortal coil. Small Faces founders Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane are no longer with us, but their music and influence lives on, hopefully more so after this induction brings attention to their incredible body of work. I know for a fact that Ian McLagan pays tribute to both every night, at every show, and I am sure he did so again last night from the stage.

Ron Wood and Mac remember the Small Faces

Typical of the lack of respect both bands received in their prime, they had to share an induction rather than be considered individually. That’s a bit daft considering the impact both bands had in their time, and how different they were musically despite sharing three members.

The Small Faces were the mod movement, running off a string of pop and psychedelic singles that set the tone for the late 60s. Steve Marriott’s dynamic voice and presence was ethereal, and he and Lane wrote great songs. They never toured the States – their crook of a manager couldn’t skim if they did – but in England they slot alongside The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who.

The Small Faces:Tin Soldier

The Faces, on the other hand, were brash and boozy rockers that turned arenas into parties where the audience was not only entertained but often dragged back to the hotels for a nightcap. Each packed about as much wallop into a few short years as anyone ever has, and when you realize that half of the output of The Faces between 1971 and 1975 wound up under Rod Stewart’s name alone, you realize what a gross oversight this has been.

The Faces: “I’m Losing You”

But those that really matter – the fans, the bands they influenced – had both bands in their own personal Hall decades ago.

Of course, going any further would just stir up old feelings and make me mock the Hall for ignoring so many other artists; odds are that Lady Gaga will get in before Deep Purple or Cheap Trick. At least they did the right thing and moved the ceremony back to Cleveland.

So I will take the high road instead and simply revel in their greatness, like I always have and always will. Pint in hand, of course.

Happy boys...happy.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten For Mac

Ooh La La

I saw Ian McLagan perform last night, and as always, it was magical.

Mac performed in a beautiful little theatre in Cazenovia, NY, to an appreciative throng of fans old and new. Pretty hard not to be converted by this genuine article, who shares stories and jokes in-between renditions of songs from his solo albums and those of two of the best bands in history, The Small Faces and The Faces. On this evening he focused more on solo material, especially his latest release Never Say Never and a couple of songs from his upcoming record. Accompanying Mac was Jon Notarthomas, who weaved on and off the set adding bass lines and harmony vocals; Jon is the bass player in The Bump Band and Mac’s trusted partner on his solo gigs.

Ian McLagan is a very talented songwriter and performer, an astute writer and an accomplished painter. But his greatest quality might be his friendship. Every night Mac makes music, he tells the audience about the late great Ronnie Lane and performs one or more of Lane’s songs. Ronnie Lane might be underappreciated, but as long as Mac walks the earth, he and his music will not be forgotten. (Slim Chance is now carrying the torch again as well).

Fame changes a lot of people, but it’s obvious that Mac’s love for his friend is genuine and pure. When I leave this mortal coil, I would be blessed to have someone speak for my legacy only half as well. Of course, Mac did more than speak – Spiritual Boy is a real gem.

Opening the show were Gary Frenay and Arty Lenin, longtime pop legends from their work in The Flashcubes and Screen Test. Their work as a duo – at one time under the moniker of The Neverly Brothers – is airtight and a songwriter’s showcase. Lenin excels on any style of guitar playing, but as Gary usually plays bass, I forgot how good a guitar player he is as well. Seeing them on a stage in a first-rate theatre with an excellent sound man was a reminder of how lucky I have been to see them so many times. 

Gary, Arty and Jon are all from the Syracuse area and have known each other for decades, and seeing Jon sing lead with them on a cover of “This Boy” was a real treat. And in the interest of editorial fairness, I’ve known them all for years and we’re friends…but that does not diminish the reality of how good they are.

So for this boy, Thursday night was an honor. I saw many old friends I hadn’t seen in years and listened to a couple of hours of great music by favorite performers. Mac is off shortly to play with a reunited Faces, then more overseas solo gigs and the release of another book. If you haven’t seen Ian McLagan, there’s a hole in your life.

So for this week’s TGIF, may I present Ten For Mac!

(01) – “Glad And Sorry

(02) – “Never Say Never

(03) – “Get Yourself Together

(04) – “Little Girl

(05) – “Kuschty Rye

(06) – “Debris

(07) – “All Or Nothing

(08) – “You’re So Rude

(09) – “Little Troublemaker

(10) – “Cindy Incidentally

macspages

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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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Under The Radar: Rod Stewart??

Yep.

In 2010, The Faces finally reunited after several aborted attempts, subbing Simply Red moptop Mick Hucknall in the Rod Stewart seat and grabbing original Sex Pistol bassist Glen Matlock to stand in for the late, great Ronnie Lane. (Somewhere, Tetsu raised a pint. And then probably a few more…)

In 2010, Rod Stewart released yet another collection of American croooner covers, his fifth, which once again endeared him to housewives, daytime television talk shows and background noise radio. Oh…and probably fattened his wallet by another few million pounds.

Most people who revile the MOR album collections remember Rod as the spiky haired carouser who juggled his own stellar solo career with his stint as lead beverage in The Faces. It was a phenomenal run, albeit a short one, but the influence from Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells A Story and A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse continues to live on in bands from The Black Crowes to The Diamond Dogs. Add in The Small Faces and Paul Weller and you can pretty much trace the genealogy of every Britpop band since then.

While Stewart arguably hasn’t been a viable writer since the early 80s, there was a glimmer of hope eleven years ago, a road flare from the tour bus called When We Were The New Boys. Yes, it was a cover album (except for the title track, an American Pie take on his own career), but the covers were from the likes of Oasis and Primal Scream and Graham Parker…and they rocked! Of course he couldn’t sustain it, but the ballads (including covers of Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith) were done well. as a longtime fan I was excited that he rediscovered his muse. Now twelve years later, I’m still waiting for another sign.

I really have mixed emotions about his cover of “Ooh La La”. He sings it well, although that song will be forever owned by Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane. One could say that it’s a heartfelt nod to his old bandmate, except that…well, his timing sucks. Lane’s battle with MS was painful and long, and he was far from financially solvent thanks to the mountainous bills that illnesses like that generate. Sure would have been nice if Rod would have covered this when he was at the apex of his stadium dates…or if he had gone back on the road with his old mates. Huge royalties and tour money would have made a major impact upon Lane’s options. But no

I don’t hate Rod Stewart. Hell, I don’t even know Rod Stewart. And lord knows what I would do if someone rolled up to me and told me I could make millions of dollars by transforming myself into…well, the highest paid karaoke singer on the planet. I just feel like I’ve watched a guy with once-in-a-generation talent take the easy road rather than push the envelope.

So it’s quite possible that you did miss this blip on the radar, halfway between “Love Touch” and “Fly Me To The Moon”. I heartily recommend that you grab it – I’ll add in my original review if I can find the damned thing – because “Hotel Chambermaid” and “Rocks Off” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and “Ooh La La” are worth the price of admission and then some. And yes, I will hold out hope in my heart that the old rooster has one last hurrah left in him.

If you want to know what all the Rod Stewart fuss was about, try the excellent collection Sessions…or read this.  And if you want to hear a full length tribute to Ronnie Lane, go get Ian McLagan’s wonderful Spiritual Boy (as well as Plonk’s catalogue, of course).

When We Were The New Boys at Amazon.

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Happy Birthday, Ronnie Wood!

Happy Birthday, Ronnie Wood!

One of my favorite rock’n’roll characters of all time, Ron Wood has enjoyed a solid solo career as well as being a fixture in two of the best bands of all time, The Faces and The Rolling Stones. In the mid-60s he was the guitarist and principal songwriter for The Birds (not to be confused with these guys) and briefly joined The Creation in their waning days before joining The Jeff Beck Group as bassist. While with Beck (along with Rod Stewart and drummer Micky Waller) they recorded two classic albums, Truth and Beck-Ola, before he and Stewart joined the remaining members of The Small Faces after Steve Marriott’s departure.

With Stewart, he rejuvenated the band in a more arena rock direction, and their four studio albums released in the early 70s remain stone cold classics. Although they only had one hit in the United States (“Stay With Me”), their shows were booze-drenched wonders, sloppy yet inspired, brilliant yet imperfect. In other words, everything a great rock band should be. Too many great songs to pick favorites, but with four strong and prolific songwriters in the band, it looked like they would be around forever.

The Faces also acted as Rod’s supporting musicians for the albums he released as a solo act during the same time. When Stewart started hoarding much of his material for himself and his solo success eclipsed the band’s, Ronnie Lane left and one album later it was over…and there was Woody standing at the altar.

Then he had his own album to do.

Perhaps (along with Ian McLagan’s album Bump In The Night) the best Faces album never made, Wood’s solo debut is as fresh and vital today as it was upon first release. Featuring mates from both the Stones and Faces helping out and a first-rate rhythm section of Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark, I Have My Own Album To Do is easily as good or better than anything the Stones or Rod Stewart has put out since.

Live Video: I Can Feel The Fire

His follow-up album Now Look was more r&b oriented thanks to a collaboration with Bobby Womack, one of Woody’s favorite artists. The pace slowed after that, but Wood has released six studio albums (plus Mahoney’s Last Stand recorded with Ronnie Lane); there are also several live and compilation albums available.

It’s odd to think that Wood has been a Rolling Stone for thirty-five years; a tenure as lead guitarist that dwarfs the combined span of Brian Jones (1962-69) and Mick Taylor (1969-1974). In Wood, Keith Richards finally found the perfect mate for his preferred style of guitar weaving; onstage they play like a two-headed, four-armed man. He also found a drinking and carousing buddy, and Wood moved right from the Faces’ pub lifestyle to a new global level of decadence. Despite their years of friendship and Wood’s proven status, he remained a salaried employee for over twenty years before finally becoming an official partner in financial affairs.

For those who loved Wood’s tone and solos with The Faces, however, the Stones years have been a disappointing experience where his songwriting is not welcomed by Mick and all musical direction comes from Keith. Why buy a hot sports car and leave it up on blocks in your garage? Likewise, despite his financial and popular success,  Rod Stewart never again hit the creative heights he did when Wood was his writing partner.

Imagine if the material from Stewart’s solo career from 1971-1974 had been combined with the work The Faces produced – how huge they could have been! But rather than household names and multi-millionaires, their legacy lives on through the hundreds of bands that used them as a step-stool and a model. It is one of the biggest injustices in rock history.

Personally, I look back upon the Stewart-Wood years as pure bliss. Like Jagger-Richard, it’s a partnership that draws the best out of the two halves and a system of checks and balances that helps push the creative work to its peak. I can’t imagine Wood signing off on any of the schlock Stewart released during his latter career, and Stewart’s commercial sense probably would have sharpened Wood’s songwriting.

Watching them reunite for Stewart’s Unplugged special in 1993 briefly recaptured the magic, but in recent years not even their personal bond can overcome the demands that Rod (or his management) continue to throw up as roadblocks to a Faces reunion and tour (a tactic the band may finally have tired of).

I’m not certain what the man himself thinks of the past three decades, but I can assure you that if you want to hear Woody having fun, listen to the New Barbarians albums, where he and Keef are free of Rod and Mick.

Years of booze and smoke wore down a voice that was always rough and ragged to begin with. Perhaps this was never more clear than when Wood covered Bob Dylan’s “Seven Days” and the realization set in that Dylan sounded almost sweet by comparison. But like Dylan, you could look past the imperfection of the technique to reap the emotion and the soul of the performance. Woody always had heart and soul.

Wood is also an accomplished artist and painter whose portraits and sketches are collector’s items; many of his albums include samples of his work.

Sadly, in recent years Wood has been in and out of rehab and has suffered through some serious some family issues as a result. Here’s hoping that body and mind recover fully and we have many, many more songs and paintings and quips from one of the last true rock stars of his generation.

New to Woody? The Essential Crossexxion isn’t a bad place to start.

Ron Wood website – art and music!

Ron Wood discography and wiki page

***

June 1st also marks the 30th anniversary of CNN’s first broadcast as well as the birthday of Pat Boone, Andy Griffith, Marilyn Monroe, Morgan Freeman, Jonathan Pryce, Brian Cox and Cleavon Little; it’s also the anniversary of the deaths of David Ruffin and Sonny Boy Williamson.

And a belated R.I.P. to counterculture icon Dennis Hopper. I was traveling when I heard the news of his death (and the completion of the trifecta of Gary Coleman and Art Linkletter). I’ll pay tribute by spotlighting ten classic Hopper performances in this Friday’s TGIF.

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Blast From The Past: Mott The Hoople

I can’t help myself.

I know I’ve pimped Mott one or two times already but (1) we’re not getting any younger, (2) Mott The Hoople rules, and (3) what’s a couple of posts over fifteen months? Besides, all but one were related to the reunion we thought we’d never see, which some of my friends (who attended) are still jawing about (and judging by the reviews, rightfully so.)

And it’s almost Easter – an appropriate time to Roll Away The Stone.

Roll Away The Stone / All The Young Dudes

And do enjoy this great diary from Mott fan John O’Rourke, one of the lucky American blokes who leaped The Big Pond for the event. That great event can be relived via the official live album which can be ordered here.

But to invert a great line, that was now and this is then.

No, today’s time-trip is for a release that popped across my desk a decade ago, just after the luminous box set All The Young Dudes finally saw the light of day but before many more of the live shows officially surfaced. While it wasn’t the pristine capture that people have come to expect, consider the source of the material and the date of the show and be thankful that these gems surface at all. (Be forewarned that it’s for fans with a tolerance for bootleg quality sound.)

Rock’n’Roll Circus is just one of many Mott titles available from UK label Angel Air, who have unearthed and issueed great music for many classic bands. Here’s what I wrote for Consumable Online in 2000…

Recorded at the Civic Centre in Wolverhampton (a favorite venue of many bands of the era), this CD features the classic lineup of Mott The Hoople in April 1972, just after their legendary meeting with David Bowie and his donation of his “All The Young Dudes“. Although that track had yet to be recorded (and the band’s global popularity had yet to explode), Mott The Hoople sounds revitalized and plays this sixty-six minute set with great enthusiasm.

Perhaps that’s why “The Ballad Of Mott” sounds especially poignant here in its rare live appearance. “Just lately we started to do what we wanted to do again”, says Hunter at one point, and you can sense that this almost-defunct unit once again truly believed in themselves and their future.

Like the Stones before them (albeit only once) and Ronnie Lane afterwards, the band headlined a “Rock And Roll Circus“; musical concert as part of a variety/vaudeville format. Knife throwers, comics and animal acts took the stage in addition to other groups, which made life on the road especially chaotic, but also a lot of fun. In the liner notes, the band speaks highly of the late comic Max Wall and dedicates the release to his memory. Ironically, the opening band Hackensack featured future Mott member Ray Majors on guitar in a performance that obviously impressed Buffin and Overend Watts.

The sound quality on Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus is merely bootleg plus, but once your ears settle in, it’s hard not to get caught up in the energy of the performance. Hunter’s voice is in prime form, Verden Allen’s Hammond B3 sounds positively sinister and full, and Mick Ralphs is chock full of spirited leads and chunky rhythms. “Angeline”, later played at a much faster tempo, here retains the spirit of the original, while early staples like “Darkness Darkness” and “Thunderbuck Ram” (with Mick Ralphs’ vocals sounding a lot like Dave Davies) get solid workouts.

Ian Hunter’s “Mr. Bugle Player” admittedly robs “Mr. Tambourine Man” blind (so thoroughly that Dylan’s lack of a co-write is criminal) but gives due props on their blues-based take of “Honky Tonk Women”. Ralphs’ “Until I’m Gone”, the Who-like “The Moon Upstairs” and the manic “Rock And Roll Queen” are standouts, along with the encore of “Midnight Lady”. It’s a great aural snapshot of Mott The Hoople at a critical point in their history. Like all releases on Angel Air, the packaging is outstanding, featuring well-written liner notes and rare photos in the twenty-page booklet.

Roll Away The Stone

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