Main Index Page General Ratings Page Rock Chronology Page Song Search Page New Additions Message Board


[Page incomplete]

Class ?

Main Category: Roots Rock
Also applicable: --------
Starting Period: The Interim Years
Also active in: The Punk/New Wave Years, The Divided Eighties



Disclaimer: this page is not written by from the point of view of a Ronnie Lane fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Ronnie Lane fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window.


Coming soon.



Year Of Release: 1997
Overall rating = 12

A lovely, tasteful and humble collection of very nice roots-rock tunes. Not much more... but for some, there just might not be anything more.

Best song: HOW COME

Track listing: 1) How Come; 2) Tell Everyone; 3) Done This One Before; 4) The Poacher; 5) Bye And Bye (Gonna See The King); 6) Roll On Babe; 7) Anymore For Anymore; 8) What Went Down (That Night With You); 9) Lovely; 10) Brother Can You Spare A Dime; 11) Ain't No Lady; 12) Don't Try And Change My Mind; 13) Well Well Hello (The Party); 14) Kuschty Rye; 15) You're So Right; 16) One Step; 17) Lad's Got Money; 18) Stone; 19) Sweet Virginia.

Note: this is a temporary review. Since this is a collection of singles, I feel free to rate it; however, most of these singles, with just a few exceptions, were culled off from three of Lane's LPs, and I would certainly be interested in tracking them down, sooner or later. When I do, this review will be restructured.

I feel somewhat awkward about these songs. I have always thought that Ronnie Lane, while certainly being absolutely unjustly forgotten over the years, still wasn't such a great songwriting talent as some depict him. Especially if we judge by his work with the Faces, that is. But it turns out that Ronnie's image in the Faces has been almost totally overshadowed by the rest of the members, mainly Ronnie Wood and, of course, Rod the Mod. Ronnie was always the 'quieter' guy, with a tendency to play unpretentious, cozy folk ballads and countryish rockers, whereas Stewart and Co. presented the Faces as a loud, brawny, boozy & bloozy band. Therefore, if you skip to Kuschty Rye from the Faces, you'll get a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, depending on your tastes.

After quitting the Faces in 1973, Ronnie went on to form a roots-rock combo called Slim Chance and went on to record several LPs with them; later on, he engaged in some collaborations with Ronnie Wood (Mahoney's Last Stand, 1976) and Pete Townshend (Rough Mix, 1977) and had a couple more solo records before suffering a terrible fate: in the early Eighties he ended up with multiple sclerosis, which tormented him for twenty years, gradually making him unable to play (although he was still able to sing at several Faces' reunions) and finally driving him to an untimely death in 1997. Kuschty Rye, thus, appears as a gracious posthumous tribute to the man; and although most of the songs recorded here have nothing to do with Ronnie's illness, you just can't get rid of the 'testament' feeling. And when some beautiful ballad comes on, like 'Roll On Babe' or 'Anymore For Anymore', I can't even hold back a tear or two...

Because these singles really deserve it. Let me tell you this. First of all, Ronnie really can sing. As it turns out, he just couldn't sing while being in the Faces, because the styles and the moods didn't fit him, or maybe he was just so shy and weak in the presence of Rod Stewart. But now that he's on his own, he displays a gorgeous warm singing tone, with not an ounce of power that Stewart has but with tons more personality - I can easily identify with most of these songs, whereas even in his best days Rod's singing was somewhat 'outside'. Second, the other guys in Slim Chance really can play: the country and folk arrangements are lush, filled to the brink with instruments that seem to live and breathe. Pianos, guitars, saxes, mandolins, cellos... even the weakest tunes are enjoyable if only because they're performed with so much love and authenticity. The later solo material is a bit weaker in that respect, but still good.

Third and most important - these tunes are all incredibly personal. It really seems like Ronnie is singing all this stuff to you, in your private bedroom or living room, not in a sweaty stadium, like Rod. If you're a guitar player, you will most certainly be tempted to pick up your six-string and follow Mr Lane wherever he leads you. He's completely unpretentious, sharing the psychology of 'oh me? well I'm just playing this here song to myself, don't take it too serious, man'; he's cheerful, slightly optimistic even within the saddest numbers (all too ironic and creepy considering his fate); and he performs all this stuff with real conviction, singing his very heart out. I mean, if ever you got irritated by the highly-held nose of Mr Neil Young, Ronnie is the perfect cure...

Undoubtedly, the best stuff on this album are the first seven songs, originally placed on singles taken from Slim Chance's first album, Anymore For Anymore. They certainly sound a lot like Ronnie's stuff off the latest Faces' records, but that stuff usually passed unnoticed when put next to Roderick's mastodontic brawn. In fact, Ronnie even re-records 'Tell Everyone' from Long Player, and I'm left gaping open-mouthed at how this version is actually better than the Faces' one. The Faces treated the song as a generic soul number, leaving in the surface but leaving out the real essence; Ronnie probably sings this song with less power than Rod, but he renders it emotionally valid, in a Dylan-ish kind of way (except that his voice will never put off anybody like Dylan's voice sometimes can).

By far the best song on here, though, is the exciting country rocker 'How Come' - upbeat, lovely, and catchy as hell. Hilarious, too - on no other track Ronnie sounds so giggly and tongue-in-cheek and manages to get away with it. And that's not all; what about the frail, delicate beauty of 'The Poacher', an orchestrated folk ballad with one of the most stunning arrangements for a folk ballad I've ever heard? Man, it was a stroke of genius to combine that pipe, that organ, and the strings. 'Bye And Bye (Gonna See The King)' diversifies the standard country pattern by throwing in a piano background; and, like I already mentioned, 'Roll On Babe' and 'Anymore For Anymore' are beautiful, melancholic ballads which I can hardly tolerate because they so vividly associate in my mind with Ronnie's passing away. I mean, many great rockers are already dead and gone, but this I gotta tell you - these ballads have gotta be the most emotionally powerful 'self-lamentations' along with some of Lennon's songs on Double Fantasy. (I suppose that after Dylan is dead, I will treat 'I Shall Be Released' likewise; even if I sincerely hope the guy still has enough strength in himself to outlive me).

Don't know why I started all these scary conversations, though. Anyway, these first seven songs are the strongest, and the record never quite lives up to them. But I hold a soft spot in my heart for the cover of the jazz ditty 'Brother Can You Spare A Dime' (Ronnie performed this for a movie soundtrack in 1976) and the pretty rag-time of 'Ain't No Lady'. As for the later numbers - four songs taken off his 1979 See Me album - they're okay. I still can't understand if that's a synthesized or a real accordeon they're playing on 'Kuschty Rye', but whatever be, it's a very nice mid-tempo folk-pop song demonstrating that, while Ronnie might have lost some of the arrangement skills over the years, he was still as authentic and sincere as ever. 'One Step' is darn catchy, too; and the epic 'Lad's Got Money', disguised as an anthemic ballad ('come here children I'll sing you a so-o-o-o-o-ong', that kind of style), clearly, and forever, establishes Ronnie's place as King of Personalized Folk Rock, more so than any other British folk rocker I know.

As an encore, the record features two live numbers from a Slim Chance concert in 1975: 'Stone' is very good, and it rocks a bit harder than anything else here, but I'm not too sure about the Stones' 'Sweet Virginia'. After all, nobody can beat the masters at their game - and I love the original so much I cannot yet distance myself from it. But maybe I should; I'm not saying that this performance is bad, it's just very different from the Stones' 'country-crunch'.

If you find this record - buy it. If only as a respectful tribute to an undoubtful rock hero who lived a tragic life full of disappointments, relative obscurity and illnesses, and was still able to record material of such high quality, wearing his heart on his sleeve so much he'd almost rubbed it away... Rest in peace, Ronnie, and may you never be forgotten.


Return to the main index page