on 14 March 2014
I'd held off buying this at first, thinking that I had most of the tracks on other CDs, and that there were a few essential cuts not on here. A foolish mistake. This is an absolute 'must buy' for all Ronnie's fans, or anybody who likes real homegrown music from the 1970's. The remastering has really buffed up these songs, and this is how they should've been heard in the first place. Tracks which I'd thought were fairly mediocre by Ronnie's standards, shine like jewels here, and really come alive for the first time. It's a lovely old box of treasures, full of love, warmth and humanity, and Ronnie's charm and character really comes through in the remastered vocals, so much more than on previous releases. It's music to take to the shed, with all your old fishing rods, magazines and memories; for there are better days contained in these songs, wisdom, experience, and lessons learned along the way. Ronnie was wise, way beyond his years; and I wonder if he knew how good a song Debris was ? It's perhaps the best song about fathers and sons ever written; beautifully understated, with vivid imagery of a time and place, and so much of life's awkwardness left unsaid, between the lines. The version here captures it all.
As every Small Faces and Faces fan knows – Ronnie Lane’s primo and sought-after solo career on GM and Island Records in the mid to late Seventies has had a ludicrously convoluted history on CD. It’s involved obscure re-issue labels, followed by quick deletion and extortion setting in on the price front almost immediately. And most of these discs have had OK to occasionally better sound quality. Well – at last – all of that ends with Universal’s big label 2CD reissue "Ooh La La: An Island Harvest". It's not perfect for sure – but damn close. Here are the tins and tambourines…
UK released Monday 10 March 2014 on Universal-Island 5345422 (Barcode 600753454220) – "Ooh La La: An Island Harvest" breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (74:41 minutes):
Tracks 1, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 15 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED - "Ooh La La (Alternate Studio Take – Take 4)", "Buddy Can Spare A Dime (Alternate Studio Take – Take 5)", "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter) (Alternate Studio Take)", "You Never Can Tell (Take 1)", "Back Street Boy (Jam Session)", "Country Boy (Alternate Take)"
Tracks 8, 14, 17 and 18 are from the 1975 UK album "Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance" (see sequence below)
Tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12 and 13 are from the 1976 UK album "One For The Road" LP (see sequence below)
Track 16 is "What Went Down (That Night With You)" – the A-side of a non-album UK 7” single issued February 1975 on Island WIP 6216
Disc 2 (75:26 minutes):
Tracks 1 and 14 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED - "The Poacher (Take 2)" and "Anniversary (Alternate Mix)"
Tracks 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 are from the 1975 UK album "Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance" (see sequence below)
Tracks 3 and 5 are from the 1976 UK album "One For The Road" LP (see sequence below)
Track 8 is "Lovely (Single Version)" – the Non-Album B-side of Track 16 on Disc 1
Tracks 12 to 19 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE tracks from a BBC Concert 23 April 1974 - "Last Orders Please", "Done This One Before", "Flags And Banners", "Tell Everyone", "How Come", "I Believe In You", "Debris" and "Ooh La La".
You can sequence 'most' of both Island LPs as follows (1/18) = Disc 1, Track 18 etc.:
Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance (July 1975 2nd UK LP on Island ILPS 9321)
1. Little Piece Of Nothing (1/18)
2. Stone (2/4)
3. A Bottle Of Brandy (2/6)
4. Street Gang (2/2)
5. Anniversary (1/14)
6. I’m Gonna Sit Down And Write Myself A Letter
7. I’m A Country Boy
1. Ain’t No Lady (2/9)
2. Blue Monday (2/10)
3. Give Me A Penny (1/8)
4. You Never Can Tell
5. Tin And Tambourine (1/17)
6. Single Saddle (2/7)
One For The Road (July 1976 3rd UK LP on Island ILPS 9366)
1. Don’t Try 'N' Change My Mind (1/2)
2. 32nd Street (1/7)
3. Snake (1/12)
4. Burnin' Summer (1/13)
5. One For The Road (1/3)
1. Steppin' An' Reelin' (The Wedding) 1/5)
2. Harvest Home (1/6)
3. Nobody's Listening (2/3)
4. G’morning (2/5)
The 2CDs are housed in a three-way foldout card sleeve that’s admittedly flimsy with CD1 on the left, CD2 on the right and the 16-page booklet in the centre (and again no inner bags for protection – be careful extracting the discs). A nice touch however is that CD1 repros the Pink-Rim Island Label - while CD2 repros the one after it – the Blue and Orange mid to late Seventies label. There are hugely affectionate liner notes by renowned music writer PAOLO HEWITT who also compiled the set with JOHNNY CHANDLER. We get mini photos of the two album sleeves and UK Island singles, master tape boxes, concert tickets, gig posters and reissue credits. But of course the big news is the sound – remastered from original tapes by ALEX WHARTON at Abbey Road Studios – we finally get to hear these tracks breath and sound wonderful.
The sonic wallop is immediate when you get to Track 2 – a rare UK 7" single "Don't Try To Change My Mind". Last I heard it was on a Neon CD from 2000 (see review) and its sound quality was good rather than great. Now it’s a revelation. The accordion and mandolins are so clear – lovely tune. And it seems like I’ve waited 40 years to hear "Tin And Tambourine" sound this good – what a blast. And when the band goes into that harmonica jaunt half way through – I’m bawling like a sappy fool. God I miss this guy…
As fans will have noticed from the LP lists above there’s bad news and niggles – a few of the album cuts are AWOL or replaced with Alternates. However in the case of "Country Boy" – the Alternate Mix is shockingly good – as pretty as Lane could be – it’s going to be an absolute highlight for many. The distortion and crackle on "Burnin' Summer" is unbelievably bad (corrupted tape?).
But in compensation the BBC In Concert stuff on Disc 2 comes over as a FACES gig done live-in-the-studio in a ramshackle Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance style (and don’t get me started on the gorgeous “Debris” – we’ll be here for years). The finisher "Ooh La La" is joyous stuff. There are one or two of the Takes with small amounts of studio banter (the Chuck Berry cover "You Never Can Tell") and Plonk’s infectious laugh that will put a smile on many a weary kisser. Fans of "The Poacher" will also flip for the "Two, Three, Four…" count in on Take 2 where I swear he’s changed the words but all the magical ingredients are there – just slightly different. Another gem for many will be the sonic upgrade on the lovely "Anniversary" (lyrics above) – it’s featured in both album and alternate form.
As a long time Amazon Reviewer (over 1000 posts) – I regularly heap praise on UK independent labels that keep the flame alive for so many of us (especially on CD). But in 2014 someone somewhere seems to have lit a large torch under the stodgy bottom of Universal – because like the brilliant Eric Clapton 2CD set “Give Me Strength” – for me this is yet another 2014 Reissue of the Year from a major record company. What is going on!?
Paolo Hewitt writes of Ronnie Lane, "He had stars in his eyes and he had love in his smile…"
Well after a mere four even five decades after the event and his sad passing – fans of Ronnie 'Plonk' Lane finally have something worth getting weepy about. I raise a Pint of Guinness to him and to all involved in this superb reissue.
Cheers to you all...
on 8 May 2014
I knew Ronnie Lane and he knew me. What a wonderful, warm, gentle spirit he was. And his music reflected this. Ronnie Lane left the bigtime arenas for the Faces and their 4/4 rock & roll to be the ONLY musician to ever convince this Kentucky boy there was such a thing as true English country & western. Many Brits have tried but with the possible exception of Billy Bragg's last album this is the only true artistically successful English country & western I have ever heard in my life.
With several unreleased cuts, different takes and a fine BBC live session if you are a Ronnie Lane completist, and I am, you need this in your home, and if you need an introduction to the Great Small Face then look no further. He will be missed as long as there is a fiddle or mandolin left to play and the list of strong songs herein is simply too long to list here. Now how many albums can you say THAT about, eh?
As Ian McLagan always sez, "goodnight, Ronnie!" and God bless you from my north London pad.
on 10 March 2014
Music that's a fresh and lovely as it was back in the 70s. This is a real treat for fans and those who are yet to become fans of the late great Ronnie Lane. Listen to this and you will be smitten for life! :) <3
on 20 March 2014
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to find a rare copy of ''The Poacher" on 45" single format, a song which still bewitches me each time I hear it.
Finally, Universal-Island Records have compiled this gorgeous 37-track, 2-cd offering which no Ronnie or Small Faces fan should be without.The cd comes with a 16-page History of Ronnie with period photos and band history and vintage photos.
Disc 2 concludes with 8 tracks which made up the awesome 'BBC in Concert' recorded on 23rd April 1974
'How Come' you dont have this in your collection yet!?
on 20 March 2014
This music is truly great and the two discs are crammed with songs (about two hours and a half).
The two records Ronnie Lane released for the Island label are presented almost in their entirety, with the exception of a few of the original tracks replaced by very good alternates. And there's the bonus of a whole BBC session from the era. So this is all very fine.
The ok-but-not-great news is that the sound is ok but by no means outstanding, nothing remotely comparable to other Island reissue from the same era (this might be partially due to the original recordings; Lane' Mobile Studio was surely professional but not comparable to, say, Sound Techniques studio run by top drawer engineer John Wood)
The two different, original Island labels used for the discs are a nice touch, but oddly they scrambled the chronological order, so most of the tracks from the later "One For The Road" are on the first disc (with the label to "Slim Chance"), and viceversa.
The booklet is even more confusing, with the artwork to "One For The Road" presented before "Slim Chance".
There's no info whatsoever about the recordings, no line-ups, which could have been particularly interesting for the unissued tracks and the Live at the BBC.
We're simply not told who is playing on these tracks.
The liner notes are a bit amateurish and skimpy - the kind that make you think you could do better just by looking it up on the internet - and certainly could have used an editor's eye (the last sentence is: "And that is why he so missed" (sic) - OH COME ON!)
So, great music - mediocre presentation.
PS anyone interested in some serious insight on the subject might rather check out Pat Gilbert's piece on the April issue of Mojo, very well written and with new interviews with bandmates and then-wife Kate. That's the way it's done.
on 28 March 2014
Discovered this had been released by (slim) chance and glad I did. I ordered the Digipack which Amazon haven't bothered to mention in their Banner (yet!?) as this is the limited edition of 2000 copies and the other is the jewel case. Luckily I chose the one I wanted.
The music sounds fresh and clean, lovely mandolin sound on the opening track. Ronnie's music was always a bit low fi rustic anyway so I won't worry to much about whether its the perfect remaster or not, just listen to the great music. A few comments have been made about the crackles and supposed poor sound on Burnin' Summer. I believe Ronnie was fond of recording outdoors so on my tape of the original album I can hear on Burnin' Summer, a lot of birdsong, kids shouting, and things being banged into! It was already there! Looking at my vinyl copy of Anymore for Anymore the sleeve notes say,'Any rumble on "Anymore for Anymore" is wind in the microphone, please do not adjust your set. Ta all.' An insight into his down home attitude, but it suits his music I think!?
The two CDs are held without additional protection in the usual 'grip of death' card sleeves. Do wish they would use cloth inner bags which must cost very little and used to be used in the days when manufacturers introduced card covers instead of plastic cases, e.g. my copy of Gene's drawn to the deep end, released in 1997 on Polydor. Now that's how it should be done!
On opening the cover I was pleased to see the same picture cover that was used on my copy of the single How Come? which I bought in 1973. It says on the back of the single, Proscenium Arch by courtesy of Pollocks Toy Museum. So that's where it came from and a picture of Ronnie, Kate and child inside the arch as we like to remember him/them.
What comes through as much as anything is the warmth and enthusiasm for life he had and what a supremely talented tunesmith he was. I saw him play quite a few times including with the Faces recording a BBC In Concert at the Paris studios and with Slim Chance at a pub in London on the same day John Lennon was murdered. That was still a great gig but it was written on their faces how upset they all were. Believe Henry McCullough was playing guitar with them that night.
I would like to see a Nick Drake style vinyl reissue series of the first three albums if Universal could license Anymore for Anymore.
Ronnie, missed and not forgotten. Or as the rather scanty booklet says, And that is why he so missed. Pity they missed out the 'is'!!
on 16 January 2015
This is an exceptionally good album that I find myself playing at least twice a week. There are a number of very interesting alternative cuts and a wealth of more familiar ones; my favorite tracks are the live recordings from the BBC concert included on disc 2. I met Ronnie in the 70s when I helped to pack away his band's equipment after a student gig. I just carried a few things but you'd have thought that I'd given him a diamond ring! He was so warm and genuine in his thanks - what a wonderful talented little guy and what a loss to music his early passing was.
on 17 February 2016
How do we pigeonhole Ronnie's post-Faces music? I've seen several descriptions, including "British Country and Western" and "Modern Folk", but I'm going to go with "quirky and wonderful"!
The first highlight, for this listener, is Don't Try To Change My Mind; a marvellous upbeat song. This is followed soon after by Steppin' And Reelin'. Then we have the wonderful use of accordion, complete with birdsong, on the instrumental Harvest Home. The next highlight is 32nd Street, with its refrain of "I'd rather have a bad time than no time at all". The rest of disc 1 is good, and one song merits additional mention: Give Me A Penny sounds quite similar to Annie, from the Rough Mix album that Ronnie recorded with Pete Townshend.
Moving on to disc 2, the number of highlights increases. For this listener, The Poacher is the best song in Ronnie's solo catalogue. Nobody's Listenin', another highlight, is probably one of the songs that gave rise to the "British Country and Western" pigeonhole! The remaining highlights are all from the BBC In Concert collection at the end of the disc: Done This One Before and Tell Everyone (both from the B side of the single How Come), How Come, I Believe In You, and Débris.
I recommend this to anyone who likes Ronnie's solo material - I have several of his albums but still found plenty of new stuff to enjoy in this collection.
This 2 CD set is simply fantastic, every track is great, why ? because Ronnie Lane was one of the finest songwriters around. He was the heart of The Small Faces and The Faces, the songwriter and musician. In fact listen to some of Ronnie's solostuff and you soon see where the Rod Stewart sound came from. Over the two albums here, including a live set for the BBC on disc 2, you just get that absolute feel good factor throughout. The band even the jokes at the start of one song where Ronnie says to the band, 'Come on guys we're supposed to be professionals ain't we' or during the loive set where he says they are a new band, so he's just going to turn round and hum the tune to the band. again that's pure Ronnie Lane.
The music scene still misses his music, his humour, his musicianship and most of all his wonderful songs. He's not quite rock or pop or folk or blues, he's a little bit of them all and more.
As one well known song here is entitled 'OH LA LA', just about sums up this wonderfully enjoyable set, they don't make 'em like Ronnie anymore!