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4.6 out of 5 stars34
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2013
The story behind this album is that Ronnie was having trouble persuading record companies to allow him to release a solo album. He turned to Pete and asked him to produce it in the hope that the album might be picked up if it had the words "Produced by Pete Townshend" on it. Pete refused as Ronnie was a friend and he did not want a "producer - performer" relationship to get in the way of their friendship. He suggested they record the album as a Townshend-Lane effort instead.

As others have said, it's half PT songs and half RL songs. As a fan of both performers this appealed to me from the start. I think it was the late John Entwistle who once compared The Who to a large spaceship and the individual members to smaller shuttle craft. The smaller craft could explore territories that were off-limits to the large craft, and so it is with this album. Pete's contributions include Street In The City, which has orchestral arrangements from his then father-in-law Edwin Astley. Another of Pete's songs, Misunderstood, contains timbales (tight metallic sounding drums) which, to the best of my knowledge, have never been used by The Who! Some Who fans might be disappointed at how un-Who like Pete's contributions are, but I am pleased by them - and there isn't a single one that I can imagine Roger singing, so a solo album was the only place for them.

Ronnie's contributions are similar to other stuff in his solo back catalogue (and rest assured, that's praise not criticism). Nowhere To Run, Annie, and April Fool all rank alongside his better-known songs How Come and The Poacher. Catmelody is a weak link but still enjoyable.

One thing that initially delighted me about the deluxe package is the booklet that contains the lyrics. As much as I like Ronnie's singing, it can be difficult to understand the words at times and I was hoping to put that right. Unfortunately, the lyrics seem to have been transposed by a listener who had no more idea than I have as to what Ronnie was singing: for over 30 years I've heard a line in Nowhere To Run as "Ghost of old sailor long since been dead". This line has been transposed as "Don't starve old sailor long since been dead". I think the lyrics I've been hearing for 30+ years make more sense!

My main reason for deducting a star is that I do not believe this package merits the description "deluxe edition". Most of the deluxe editions in my collection contain a whole second CD of music which is up to the same standard as the original disc. To put on three extra tracks, throw in a booklet, and call it a deluxe edition strikes me as being at best a little cheeky.

To finish with the three extra tracks I've just touched on, two are songs by Ronnie and the other an instrumental by Pete. Suffice to say these tracks are every bit as good as the tracks that made it on to the original album. Catmelody remains Ronnie's weakest track on the disc! (My opinion)
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When I worked in Reckless Records in Central London in the Nineties and Naughties - I would regularly be met with dismay at the counter when asked by a hopeful punter if we had "Rough Mix" in the racks. No was usually the answer. It was once plentiful on vinyl - but not anymore. Slightly poo-pooed on release - I can remember the album was usually slotted into THE WHO section whenever it came in and sat there largely unnoticed...

But then in the Nineties the album began to pick up steam - until it got to a point where you couldn't get a copy for under £20 while many other WHO releases would languish beneath a tenner. And when you re-hear "Rough Mix" now - you can easily get why there's renewed interest and passion for it - it's a melodic diamond shining in a sea of 1977 anger and spitting - a collaboration between two of Britain's greatest tunesmiths pumping out a cocktail of cheeky-chappy originals and genius cover version choices. Here are the graceful postcards and slightly soiled Rizlas...

Put out by Hip-O Select in the USA and SPV Revisited Records in Europe - this fabulous March 2006 Remaster is on SPV Revisited Records SPV 304852 (Barcode 693723048529) and pans out as follows:

1. My Baby Gives It Away [Pete Townshend song - Lead Vocals]
Features Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones on Drums

2. Nowhere To Run [Ronnie Lane song - Lead Vocals]
Features Peter Hope Evans of Medicine Head on Harmonica, John Rabbit on Organ and Henry Spinetti on Drums

3. Rough Mix [Pete Townshend/Ronnie Lane song]
Features Eric Clapton on Lead Guitar, Rabbit and Spinetti on Organ and Drums

4. Annie [Ronnie Lane/Kit Lambert/Eric Clapton song - RL Lead Vocals]
Features Eric Clapton on 6-string Acoustic Guitar, Graham Lyle and Benny Gallagher (of Gallagher & Lyle) on 12-string Acoustic and Accordion, Charlie Hart on Violin and David Marquee on String Bass

5. Keep Me Turning [Pete Townshend song - Lead Vocals]
Features Rabbit on Organ and Piano with Spinetti on Drums

6. Catmelody [Ronnie Lane/Kit Lambert song - RL Lead Vocals]
Features Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones on Drums, Mel Collins on Saxophone and Ian Stewart on Piano (long-time session men with the Stones)

7. Misunderstood [Pete Townshend song - Lead Vocals] - Side 2
Features Peter Hope Evans of Medicine Head on Harmonica

8. April Fool [Ronnie Lane song]
Features Eric Clapton on Dobro with David Marquee on Double Bass

9. Street In The City [Pete Townshend song - Lead Vocals]
Features Orchestral Score by Edwin Astley

10. Heart To Hang Onto [Pete Townshend song - Duet Vocals PT & RL]
Features Boz Burrell (of King Crimson and Bad Company) on Bass with John Entwistle of The Who on Brass

11. Till All The Rivers Run Dry [Don Williams song - PT Lead Vocals]
Features Boz Burrell (of King Crimson and Bad Company) on Bass, Eric Clapton on Dobro with John Entwistle of The Who and Billy Nicholls (Immediate Records) on Backing Vocals

Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Rough Mix" - released October 1977 in the UK on Polydor 2442 147 and in the USA on MCA Records MCA-2295

12. Only You [Ronnie Lane song - Lead Vocals]
13. Good Question [Pete Townshend song - Instrumental]
14. Silly Little Man [Ronnie Lane song]
Tracks 12 to 14 are Previously Unreleased BONUS TRACKS recorded at the original 1976 and 1977 sessions

The 3-way foldout digipak offers you a photo of PT on the left with RL on the right while the 20-page booklet is a pleasingly elaborate affair filled with collector's items provided by fans Michael Grimm & Carsten Kruse - American Promo 7" singles, Trade Adverts, British 45s and Foreign picture sleeves, Press reviews, the lyrics and a 2-page appraisal by Heinz Rudolf Kunze. But the best news is a wonderful remaster by JON ASTLEY that lifts every track. This CD sounds amazing (I had the US Hip-O Select version and it's a belter too) - beautiful clarity on the songs and the cool contributions by star guest like Eric Clapton.

It opens with a winner - Townshend's "My Baby Gives It Away" sounding not unlike a "Who Are You" outtake. Lane counters with "Nowhere To Run" - a very Slim Chance tune greatly helped in the charm stakes by the Harmonica playing of Peter Hope Evans from medicine Head. The last thing you then expect is a funky-as-my-grandmother's-knitting-needles-in-full-flow instrumental - "Rough Mix" just rocks and has graced many a Seventies Fest CD of mine. Many will notice that with Eric Clapton on board - it's also a close run to another brilliant instrumental he had on his debut solo album in 1970 called "Slunky" (check that track out on "Eric Clapton"). "Annie" goes all Gallagher & Lyle (they're on it) while MCA tried "Keep Me Turning" as a single in the USA on MCA-40878. We then boogie with "Catmelody" with Ronnie abled helped by Ian Stewart & Charlie Watts (of some British Band).

But if there are three songs on here that firmly push the record into five stars - they're all on Side 2 - Lane's "April Fool", Townshend's "Street In The City" and their sublime cover of the Don Williams country classic "Till The Rivers All Run Dry". Lane could be infuriating as a songwriter sometimes - always getting close to genius - but when he did hit that sweet melody and that sweet note ("Debris", "How Come", "Tin And Tambourine")- no one could come near him. Ronnie "Plonk" Lane could make you cry -and the gorgeous "April Fool" achieves just that. And as if lifted by the beauty of the song - it features what has to be Eric Clapton's best Dobro playing ever - gorgeously produced by Glyn Johns. Then you're smacked with something you don't expect yet again - the almost Quadrophenia majesty of "Street In The City" which Townshend cleverly fills with only his Acoustic Guitar against a stark String orchestra of Cellos and Violas - it's utterly brilliant. Bizarrely Polydor coupled it with "Annie" on the B and put it out as a 7" and 12" single in the UK on Polydor 2058 944 in a picture sleeve. Actually because it's spread across the full groove of a 12" single - when you play the vinyl version- it sound awesome (as it does on this CD). But my favourite is the album finisher "Till The Rivers All Run Dry" - a Don Williams classic dedicated to his father - it turns me to mush every time. Whenever I put it on a compilation people are always shocked at how lovely it is - beautifully done (lyrics from it title this review). The three beautfiully produced album outtakes are good without ever being great - the Townshend instrumental obviously being the basis of a song he never returned to. The best is the very British chug of "Silly Man" where Ronnie Lane shouts, "we're wasting energy..." at the beginning of the recording and then just launches into the tune. They're a cool addition to a great album.

"Don't like where I've ended up or where I begun..." Townshend bemoans on the bluntly honest appraisal song "Misunderstood" of his 'ordinary star' life - and in some respects this album is the same. It wasn't a WHO record - it was a mixture of two styles - and if you're to be blunt Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance Band won the day. And I would imagine Pete Townshend would smile at the musically poetic justice of that...
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1977, and at the height of punk, a Face and the Who's Townsend turn in a record laden with country ballads, singersongwriterism and blues jams. Talk about wrong time and wrong place!

Back in the day I got this out of the library on vinyl and committed it (naughty naughty) to cassette tape. Always a favourite, it was disappointing when it was released on CD originally - sounding really dreadful - worse even than my manky old tape. Here however I am delighted to see it had been remixed brilliantly for CD with some added tracks that are valuable additions rather than cold leftovers from the original sessions. The tracks are a mixture of really very wonderful songs (poignant, funny, witty and moving) and jamming grooves. Eric Clapton amongst others are on the guestlist, and I actually think he plays better here than on most of his own albums from this era.

Ronnie Lane seems to bring out the gentler side of Townsend. A wonderful affair all round and well worth checking out in this edition.
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on 31 July 2009
This album is a fantastic buy - Pete Townsend at his accounstical finest with rumbling blues riffs and harmonica licks like Jerry Portnoy. Altogether a brilliant album.
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on 4 July 2007
I've long forgotten how I first heard this wonderful album; it was probably in the wake of my belated acquaintance with The Who's output, and Townshend supplies some of his prettiest songs. But it is in fact Lane's contribution to which I keep returning, particularly "April Fool", one of the loveliest songs around, period.
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on 23 August 2015
This album has so much heart.

It's full of sweetness, poignancy, striking lyrical ideas and effortless musicality.

Townshend and Lane write and perform their beautiful, often simple and gentle, songs and tunes in a modest, unassuming and understated manner.

The result is memorable and irresistible. You will never get songs or a collection of performances quite like this again.

They are supported well by the musicians they gather around them, as well as each making their own vital and talented multi-instrumental contributions.

So many highlights: Nowhere To Run, with Lane performing brilliantly - getting right under your skin; Annie - moving and emotional; Keep Me Turning - easily one of Pete Townshend's finest songs; April Fool, yet another lovely melody from Lane and sung so sweetly by him, you just wish there were many more verses; Street in the City, unusual and captivating, and a rare example of completely successful use of an orchestra in pop; Heart to Hang Onto, another fine Townshend song, where the acoustic guitar playing is so outstanding, you immediately want to hear it again and Townshend and Lane take vocal turns very effectively.

Till The Rivers All Run Dry ends the original album tunefully and well.

The bonus tracks are OK, and add dimension to a great little album, which now contains two pleasant instrumentals in this version of the original release.

I hadn't heard Rough Mix for a very long time indeed, since selling my vinyl copy, and found it delightful and often brilliant, but equally humble and low-key. I have found myself replaying it over and over.
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on 12 February 2000
I first listened to this album over TWENTY(am I old or what! ) years ago and the sheer variety of tracks and the intrinsic quality of Pete and Ronnie`s musical ability is perfectly captured on this one album. You can almost see them enjoying the recording and each track has a different focus with a special memory(for me, anyway)of those halcyon days gone by. One happy marriage, three beautiful daughters and four houses later,it still has a grip on me which proves quality continues down the years and I can honestly say this has got to be one of the best compilation albums produced which has not received the credit it deserved and some critical acclaim now would be the perfect tribute to Pete and Ronnie, especially bearing in mind Ronnie`s tragic illness.
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on 27 December 2002
As someone who loves The Who, The Faces - and great music in all of its myriad manifestations - but has little time for Pete Townshend's largely self-indulgent, pointless solo output, I didn't hear this album until a German friend tipped me off in 2002. Holy mother of god! What a fantastic record this is. This is music of such delicacy and beauty, and a fair old deal of rhythm and swing, that it's hard to see how it isn't more widely celebrated in popular mythology.
Lane and Townshend play on eachother's songs, rather than collaborate on the writing, but who cares how they got these results? Get past the weak Townshend opener "My Baby Gives It Away" and there are just so many highlights.... Lane's reading of Clapton's "Annie" and - probably the best track of the album - his own "April Fool", Townshend's wonderful "Keep Me Turning" and "Heart To Hang Onto". I could go on, but time is pressing.
This is an album of magical, poignant moments, great tunes and dynamic performances. Who would have thought that there was still something this outstanding to discover from two musicians so famous? If you have enough interest in either of them to be reading these reviews, you should definitely buy this album immediately. You'll thank me later.
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on 25 January 2013
Being a big Who and Faces fan, I bought Rough Mix on vinyl when it first came out in 1977. Lovely to hear it again after many years, perhaps even more enjoyable for the mature me than for a long-ago hard rock teenager. One thing that did piss me off was the new introductory text by one Heinz Rudolf Kunze, which presents the album as basically a Townshend solo album. It considers each Townshend song but barely mentions Lane's contribution. One of my reasons for re-buying the album is that much of Ronnie Lane's solo output is, unjustly, either difficult or very expensive to access at present. If Townshend had an overall say-so in approving the Deluxe release, I'm surprised that he didn't insist on an more balanced appreciation of what remains a very fine album.
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on 13 July 2012
Pete Townshend's Who Came First, from a few years before, is a personal favourite of mine. 1977's Rough Mix is a fascinating document. On one hand you can hear Pete experimenting as a composer in a way that was becoming more and more difficult for him in The Who. At the same time, in the company of Ronnie Lane, Clapton and others, you can hear him relaxing and enjoying himself as he re-immerses in blues and roots music.

I don't like all of Pete's songs. Heart To Hang Onto seems very effortful, somehow, and I dislike the lyrics of Street In The City. Keep Me Turning, however, is gorgeous - a spiritual parable delivered with joy and self-mocking humour. Misunderstood is also very clever and beautiful. The other stand-out tracks for me are Ronnie's - Nowhere To Run, and especially the sublime April Fool. I expect Clapton plays slide on the latter. Ronnie's voice is a joy throughout.

I'm so pleased to rediscover this record, years after I first heard it. There are tracks on it I skip but I would still not be without it.
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