On With The Show: Ronnie Lane — Just For A Moment: Music 1973-1997

Remembering the mightiest Small Face, More Than Two Decades On

Ronnie Lane Slim Chance

Most great songwriting teams throughout recorded history have maintained an even divide. Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Bacharach and David, Lerner and Lowe… the list goes on and on. In practically every case, the chores were evenly divided.

For example, there was little doubt which songs were penned by Paul and which by John. Other teams consigned one person to lyrics, the other to melody. In each case, it allowed for a clear division of duties and offered opportunity for each contributor to put their best strengths forth.

Nevertheless, that’s wasn’t always the case. Take Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, for example. In the seminal days of Small Faces, the music they wrote was focused entirely on pure pop, leaving little room for their individual identities to come through. Ultimately, the Marriott/Lane partnership came across as a whole, rather than the sum of two parts.

Of course, there were times when one of them could lay claim to more of the components than the other. Yet in very few instances, did the two men carve an exclusive individual niche.That said, Lane is credited with taking the greater impetus on such songs as “Itchycoo Park,” “Green Circles,” “Here Come the Nice,” “All or Nothing,” “Show Me The Way,” and various tracks on the band’s long under-appreciated swan song, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. However it’s still hard to tell even on those songs how the writing contributions were divvied up, and who could take credit for what.

After the Small Faces’ demise and the loss of Marriott to Humble Pie, the Faces made the division of duties a lot more obvious. Lane wrote some of his best songs for the band — “Tell Everyone,” “Debris” and “Ooh La La,” the latter now gaining renewed popularity courtesy of a current commercial. They formed a mellow, somewhat homespun and circumspect contrast to what the rockers’ audiences clearly came to expect from the full Faces MO. Likewise, they also set the stage for what Lane would do after flying from the Faces’ nest, once he decided he had enough of the superstar spotlight. His choice was to go back to his roots, start a travelling musical carnival, and make music that was free of the demands instilled by an industry he no longer had any need to be a part of.  A listen to any of the songs he recorded during that later era — “Anymore for Anymore,” “Kutschy Rye,” “Roll On Babe,” and “The Poacher” in particular — offers insights to Lane’s desire to adapt a decidedly folky finesse, a delivery instilled with charm, calm and a sweetness that’s still capable of bringing a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat all these years on.

The amazing new Ronnie Lane box, seek it out!

It’s apt then that this six CD set, nostalgically dubbed  Just For A Moment, finally formally encapsulates Lane’s solo career, bringing his wonderful music to the central spotlight after it’s remained under the radar for far too long. Despite the fact that there have been several anthologies and live recordings issued in the more than 20 years since Lane’s death following a long struggle with MS, a comprehensive career spanner long overdue.

That said, all but the most ardent collector may wonder whether it’s a wise investment, given that so many rarities and unreleased sessions have flooded the market in the last decade or so.

There’s a hefty cost to contend with, as well as a considerable amount of duplication being that Lane’s four studio albums are included in full, as are tracks recorded with Ron Wood and Pete Townsend on the Mahoney’s Last Stand soundtrack and Rough Mix, respectively.

Even so, there’s ample reason to weigh the options. The sizeable number of rarities, B sides, covers, live tracks and unreleased recordings — not to mention the opportunity to collect a considerable amount of Lane’s solo catalog in a single six CD box set — becomes a mighty tempting proposition. Likewise, given the extensive liner notes, it also provides an ample opportunity to rediscover Lane’s legacy and offer him the homage he deserves. That makes Just For The Moment a far more timeless proposition.

To borrow a song title from Lane himself, anymore for anymore is well worth any investment.

 

VIDEO: Ronnie Lane documentary

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

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