Every April ’round these parts, I like to celebrate the life of my hero, Ronnie Lane. Time to write at any great length on this blog has been hard to find, but I’ve got a few moments now and was listening to some various live recordings of Ronnie from the 1970s.
I’ve read stories about the Passing Show tour from 1974, and I imagine it would have been a fabulous thing to see — especially as I probably would’ve been one of an audience of about 20 or so, but it was the incarnation of Slim Chance in 1975 and 1976 with Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson that I reckon would’ve been the real kick ass performance. Hell, listen to ’em do Chuck Berry:
Here’s a few more live samplings from that crew, although I apologize I can’t cite years for these because they’re off NMC collections that, while nice in the sense that at least they put Ronnie’s music on CD — they also had shoddy-at-best recording information and (unsurprisingly) bilked Ronnie’s estate out of any proceeds from the sales.
Ronnie Lane – Stone (Live)
This is one of Ronnie’s more beloved songs, well, at least by his good friend and Who mainman Pete Townshend. Inspired by Meher Baba and the cycle of creation/life and put in the context of a nice little folk ditty. The Faces did a version of this, and Ronnie did a solo version on his 2nd Slim Chance LP, but the ultimate version (for me) remains Ronnie’s reading of it on Pete’s solo Who’s Next record. I have to say, though. I quite like this version. Simpson gives a great backing vocal, the band sound really tight and put some nice muscle behind it — pay attention to the bassline here. And Ronnie sounds pretty energetic singing it. This showed up on the NMC collection Kuschty Rye: The Singles 1973 – 1980.
Ronnie Lane – Sweet Virginia (Live)
Also culled from the Kuschty Rye compilation, Ronnie gives a lovely closing time reading of the Stones’ Exile on Main St. classic. His voice sounds incredible here — the quality of these recordings are really pretty fantastic given the fact that live documents of Ronnie’s performances in the 1970s weren’t really any label’s highest priority. Is it sacrilegious to say I might prefer this to the Stones’ gracefully ramshackle version? It might be. But how can you discount anything Ronnie affixed his vocal to? He really gives it a little more of a gospel touch, and it works fabulously.
Ronnie Lane – All or Nothing (Live)
Ronnie dips way back into the Small Faces catalogue here, and I love it. Not only because he had the tenacity to look that far back in his career, but also the gumption to take on the Small Faces lone #1 single that was made famous with Steve Marriott’s incomparable vocal. No disrespect to Lane, but sandwiched between Marriott-sung songs on the Small Faces LPs, Lane’s vocals always sounded sweet but just a tad thin. But in his solo career, he developed a strong lead vocal, and while it never matched the outright soul of his former writing partner, you can’t listen to the likes of “Don’t Try ‘N Change My Mind” without telling me Ronnie didn’t find a bit of belly for his voice. He doesn’t try to overreach or imitate Marriott here — he just sings it in his own fashioned lead vocal, and it sounds lovely.