More Debris : Ronnie Lane

Apologies to anyone tuning in hoping to hear an up-to-the-minute report on last week’s match between the frankly rather slumbering England Lions and Bangladesh.  My tip would be that, if you’ve got tickets for the Sunday of this week’s Test Match, you might like to start thinking about what you’re going to do with the refund.  And the less said about Leicestershire’s three day defeat by Glamorgan (which is where I was on Monday) the better.  Some light shed, though, on the Taylor question (is there one?  do I have an answer to it?), so I shall return to that in due course.

But now, though, another musical interlude.  I read in this morning’s newspaper that The Faces are planning a reunion, with Mick Hucknall in place of the absent Rod Stewart.  This makes sense of a kind (decent singer with a dubious lifestyle, questionable political views and, by some accounts, an unsympathetic personality)  but I’m afraid I don’t think I shall be there, and neither -more importantly – will be the man who was the best part of The Faces (as I think he was the best part of the Small Faces), Ronnie Lane.  Lane provided the pathos, the humour and the wist (and, if there’s one thing I feel is generally wrong with today’s music scene it’s its wistlessness).  If Wood and Stewart always seemed to be hankering after the Big Bayou, or the bright lights of LA, Lane would be yearning to drag them back to the Wapping Wharf Launderette.

This also follows on quite nicely from the previous item.  It was originally released in 1971, on the album A Nod’s as Good as a Wink, and has something of the same 1971 feeling of an older world giving way reluctantly to something harsher and uglier.  It took me a long time to work out that the song is actually about his father, rather than a girlfriend.  His father is on strike, which is why he is looking for bargains on the Sunday morning market, rather than it being some Bohemian whim.  I also bought the Blackpool programme on a Sunday morning market, so – d’ye see? – it all coheres, in a way. 

Who the General Workers’ Union are, by the way, I don’t know.  Perhaps the General Municipal and Boilermakers’ Union wouldn’t have scanned. 

This is a solo rendition by Lane and his band Slim Chance, from the period when he had left the Faces and was touring the  country in a caravan accompanied by a circus (and, on occasion, Viv Stanshall).  Apparently (as I’ve learnt this very day from Uncut magazine) he used to limber up before going on stage by sinking a few cans of barley wine (that potent brew), and perhaps that it is a little visible here.  The saxophone player (who I’m not sure really adds all that much) apparently left the tour, tiring of the whole circus concept, leaving a note saying “Goodbye cruel circus, I’m off to join the world”.  Very droll.  

Anyway, it’s a very lovely song, and it’s Debris –


4 thoughts on “More Debris : Ronnie Lane

  1. It’s the finest song the Faces ever recorded. I read about the reunion in the Grauniad, and was dismayed to note that, while claiming to name all the original band members, the writer did not even mention Ronnie Lane. I pondered writing a stern corrective, but if one fired off a letter to the Grauniad every time one of their young whippersnappers betrayed their ignorance, there would be little time to do anything else.

    • Quite right on all points there, I think. Very good to hear from you, by the way. Great admirer of your writings.

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