"…I Hitched A Train…Where’s She Bound…I Don’t Really Know…"
This unassuming little CD covering Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance repertoire has both plus and minus points...
But what’s not expressed on the front or rear sleeve is that it’s actually a sequenced UK 7” SINGLES COMPILATION with two live rarities thrown in at the end.
The sound quality is really superb too in places (but only iffy in others)…
Issued in 2000 and made in the Czech Republic, Neon NE 34553 breaks down as follows (72:54 minutes):
1. How Come
2. Tell Everyone
3. Done This One Before
1 to 3 is GM Records GMS 011 from 1974 (1 is the A, 2 and 3 are B1 and B2)
4. The Poacher
5. Bye And Bye (Gonna See The King)
4 and 5 are the A&B sides of GM Records GMS 024 from 1974
6. Roll On Babe
7. Anymore For Anymore
6 and 7 are the A&B sides of GM Records GMS 033 from 1974
8. What Went Down (That Night With You)
8 and 9 are the A&B sides of Island WIP 6216 from 1974
10. Brother Can You Spare A Dime
11. Ain’t No Lady
10 and 11 are the A&B sides of Island WIP 6229 from 1975
12. Don’t Try And Change My Mind
13. Well, Well Hello (The Party)
12 and 13 are the A&B sides of Island WIP 6258 from 1976
14. Kuschty Rye
15. You’re So Right
14 and 15 are the A&B sides of Gem Records GEMS 12 from 1976
16. One Step
17. Lad’s Got Money
16 and 17 are the A&B sides of Gem Records GEMS 19 from 1980
18. Stone [Live]
19. Sweet Virginia [Live]
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that there’s one 7” single missing – “Street In The City” b/w “Annie” on Polydor 2058 944 from late 1977. It’s off the “Rough Mix” album with Pete Townshend and Neon couldn’t get the licensing rights.
Proceedings open with his debut solo single from January 1974, the fabulous “How Come” and it’s two cool B-sides (the A and B2 were non-album tracks at the time). The terribly English and wistful “The Poacher” followed in June 1974 (both charted well), but them comes an absolute gem. “Roll On Babe” (lyrics above) is second only to the genius of “Debris” by The Faces – it’s one of my all-time favourite Seventies’ songs. There’s just something about the melody and mandolins that turns me to mush every single time I hear it and I’m thrilled to say that it has great sound quality here. VETIVER did a lovely version of it on their 2008 album “Things Of The Past” that I urge you to seek out – very Ryan Adams in a way. It’s B-side “Anymore For Anymore” (the title of Slim Chance’s first album from 1974) also sounds spiffing too.
After the wonderful promise of “How Come”, “The Poacher” and “Roll On Babe”, the subsequent issues are decidedly disappointing affairs – even as a rabid Lane fan it’s hard to justify the awful dullness of “Brother Can You Spare A Dime”. Things improve a little with “Kuschty Rye” and its piano and accordion barroom B-side “You’re So Right”. But the Eighties pop and shiny production values of “One Step” just don’t suit him and end up sounding forced - and worse - the sound quality on the 1976 Island singles both sound suspiciously like crude vinyl dubs.
But the two live tracks end it nicely - they’re vintage. There’s no band details provided and they appear to be licensed from “Lane Family Archive” specifically for this release. “Stone” originally hails from the wonderful “Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance” LP from July 1975 on Island ILPS 9321 and is an old Faces tune as I recall. There then follows a great cover version of “Sweet Virginia” from The Rolling Stones 1972 double “Exile On Main St.” – it’s very, very good. Both were recorded at The Victoria Palace, London in March 1975.
So there you have it – fab in places, mediocre in others, but all of it imbibed with that wonderful character of his.
Like John Martyn, Alan “Fluff” Freeman, Long John Baldry and John Peel – it’s hard to be rational about the gorgeous Ronnie Lane. I miss him.
Still - at the very least, the better parts of “How Come” remember him well.
Buy this and enjoy.