Monday, January 28, 2008

I Heart Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane with his band Slim Chance
I haven't had a serious musical crush for awhile. Don't get me wrong, I love music and listen to it in all varieties incessantly, but it's been awhile since I have fallen in love with an musician and his or her body work as thoroughly as I have fallen lately for Ronnie Lane. He might not fit your traditional idea of what "soul music" in terms of inclusion on this blog, but Ronnie is no doubt soulful and therefore he gets a pass.

I first heard Ronnie's work as many of you probably have, from the soundtrack to the Wes Anderson film, "Rushmore." It's the Faces song "Ooh La La" with the wonderful refrain, "I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger" that is easily the most identifiable near-mainstream exposure most of us have to Ronnie's songwriting and musical style. It's not actually Ronnie Lane signing that song, but Ron Wood another member of the Faces and future (and current) Rolling Stone band-member.

The Faces: Top row: Kenny Jones (drums), Ron Wood (guitar), Rod Stewart (vocals) and bottom row: Ian McLagan (keyboards) and Ronnie Lane (bass)

Then I started tracking down more Faces work, also being a fan or Rod Stewart's early years, and chanced upon this song:

The Faces - Glad & Sorry
This is another song from the fourth and last real Faces album (there were a few singles and a live album) with Ronnie participating, "Ooh La La." Despite Ronnie's frustration with his place in the band and Rod Stewart's ever-expanding ego, Ronnie actually has several great songs on this album including the title track and this tender nugget.

Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance - Anymore for Anymore
It wasn't until last Spring when I was traveling through London that I got a chance to discover some more of his output thanks to my man Hugh who is a Small Faces/Faces/Ronnie Lane fan of the first order. Hugh and I stayed up late, starting and finishing a bottle of port and listening to Ronnie Lane solo albums. This song is the title track from Ronnie's first solo album. As you can tell, Ronnie took his solo album in a similar direction as his late Faces-era compositions employing acoustic instruments and merging English and American folk traditions effortlessly.

Ronnie Lane & Ron Wood - Just For a Moment
It was around the time of "Ooh La La" that Ronnie and Ron Wood worked on a soundtrack for a lesser-known film called "Mahoney's Last Stand". According to rumor, the band worked on the soundtrack the days that Rod failed to show up at the recording sessions. This song is a real favorite of mine and reflects Ronnie's spiritual state of the mind at the time as a follower of Meher Baba, having been introduced to the spiritual movement by friend Peter Townshend.

The reason I finally decided to share my love for Ronnie is because I just finished watching this excellent documentary about his life and musical output. I highly recommend any and all music fans to see this documentary. It shows Ronnie's dedication to a life in music that was absolutely contrary to any notions of celebrity, fame, or fortune. In this age of bloated, talentless music industry Ronnie Lane's story is a like a breath of fresh, English country air.


Siobhan E. said...

Great post, great music, thanks. I was happy to see youtube has several live Slim Chance songs from some BBC show(s).

Mr Lucky Doubles said...

I watched it last night and was just so blown away by the guy - I know exactly what you mean. I love the Faces, but always assumed it was Woody and Rod who were so responsible for the sound, and many of my favorite songs it turns out are Ronnie Lane's.

I need togo back and relisten to that Faces box set and sort it all out, to say nothing of his solo albums and Rough Mix too.

Lovely post - thanks - Glad I'm not alone.