Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane - Mahoney's Last Stand (1976)

Here's a soundtrack from a movie (alternatively titled Mahoney's Estate) that nobody seems to remember anything much about. The soundtrack (released four years after the movie - if indeed the movie was ever released) has faded into obscurity too, although it's a good album in its own right - perhaps the absence of any images or credits from the film on the LP sleeve is an indication that the album should be approached on its own merits.

The two Ronnies were, of course, members of the Faces, one of the best rock bands of the early 70s, until it was overshadowed by Rod Stewart's solo career. Indeed, all the Faces bar Rod appear on the first track on this album. Ronnie Wood had just joined the Rolling Stones when this album was released, and Ronnie Lane, since quitting the Faces before their last tour (I believe because he didn't get to perform his own songs) had produced three quite exquisite albums with his band, Slim Chance. There's a budget-priced compilation CD called How Come that's currently in print. Check it out if you can't track down the Slim Chance albums. I think they might be in print in Japan, but the original LPs aren't too difficult to track down if you have the patience. His most famous work outside the Small Faces or the Faces is Rough Mix, his 1977 collaboration with Pete Townshend, which is usually available in one form or another. Pete appears on a couple of tracks on this album. I'd guess he did a few overdubs on this material while they were preparing Rough Mix.

Ronnie Wood is one of rock music's great team players, first with the Jeff Beck Group (where he was relegated to bass guitar beside his more illustrious leader), then with the Faces, Rod Stewart and the Stones. A gifted multi-instrumentalist (his slide guitar playing is particularly exceptional) who is often underestimated, possibly due to his drunken, laddish image. He's put out the odd solo album, but I have only heard the first one, which is pretty good.

This album was begun at the height of the Faces' fame (such as it was) and completed a couple of years after they split. I gather it was reissued with some bonus tracks (looks like they were Faces outtakes) on CD in Japan several years ago, but is currently out of print.

Ronnie Lane, sadly, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years later and died in 1997. Ronnie Wood continues to roll with the Stones when they are rolling. There was talk of a Faces reunion a few years ago but it just wouldn't have been right without Ronnie "Plonk" Lane.

Recorded at Olympic Studios, London.
Produced and Engineered by Glyn Johns.

LP mastered by George Piros at Atlantic.

A1: Tonight's Number (3:10)*
A2: From the Late to the Early (3:36)
A3: Chicken Wire (2:00)
A4: Chicken Wired (3:45)
A5: I'll Fly Away (0:31)
A6: Title One (3:42)
A7: Just for a Moment (Instrumental) (2:55)
B1: "Mona" the Blues (4:27)
B2: Car Radio (4:50)
B3: Hay Tumble (2:55)
B4: Woody's Thing (1:45)
B5: Rooster Funeral (3:55)
B6: Just for a Moment (2:55)

ATCO records, USA. Cat # SD 36-126.

* I just realised that 'Tonight's Number' is on the excellent Faces box set, Five Guys Walk Into a Bar, so I've omitted that one. Sorry about that.
320kbps mp3 
[links fixed 22/1/12]

Tonight's Number
Kenney Jones- drums
Ronnie Lane- bass
Ron Wood- guitar
Pete Townshend- guitar
Ian McLagan- piano
Bobby keys- brass
Jim Price- brass, baritone horn solo
From the Late to the Early
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Benny Gallagher- bass
Ron Wood- guitar, harp, vocals
Ronnie Lane- guitar, vocals
Chicken Wire
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Rick Grech- bass
Ron Wood- guitar
Ronnie Lane- banjo
Ian McLagan- harmonium
Chicken Wired
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals
Ronnie Lane- bass, banjo, vocals
Ian McLagan- piano
I'll Fly Away
The Wood / Lane vocal ensemble:
Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Glyn Johns, Bruce Rowlands, Billy Nicholls
Title One
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar
Ronnie Lane- bass, guitar, percussion
Bobby Keys and Jim Price- brass
Just for a Moment (Instrumental)
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar, harp
Ronnie Lane- guitar, percussion
"Mona"- The Blues
Rick Grech- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals, harp
Ronnie Lane- bass
Car Radio
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitars
Ronnie Lane- bass
Ian McLagan- piano
Pete Townshend- percussion
Bobby Keys- tenor sax
Hay Tumble
Micky Waller- percussion
Ron Wood- bass, guitars, harp
Ronnie Lane- guitar
Rick Grech- violin
Woody's Thing
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitars
Ian Stewart- piano
Rooster Funeral
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals
Ronnie Lane-  vocals
Rick Grech- violin
Just for a Moment
Bruce Rowlands- drums
Ron Wood- guitar,vocals, harp
Ronnie Lane- bass, percussion, vocals

All selections written by Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane except I'll Fly Away, which is traditional and arranged by Ron Wood & Ronnie Lane.

Lorks a'Lawdy. Just found a poster for the film. Looks, er, interesting.

I guess at least that goes some way to explaining the various poultry references in the song titles.
UPDATE (27/7/11):  I recently watched the excellent DVD Ronnie Lane - The Passing Show, which features a couple of short clips from the film, so it exists somewhere. Quality-wise the clips look like a videocassette dub from a TV broadcast. I'm in no hurry to see it, though. Enjoy the music.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Music Revelation Ensemble - No Wave (1980)

Some more James Blood Ulmer for yez.

Here he is in "out" mode, as distinct from blues, funk or "harmolodic pop song" mode. Music Revelation Ensemble was James Blood's free jazz combo, usually with his guitar and a horn player out front. Initially, it was with the amazing David Murray, and later had a near-incredible roster door of guest horn players, including Arthur Blythe, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Hamiet Bluiett and even John Zorn.

This is their first album, on the German Moers Music label, which seems to have specialised in recording free jazz/improv artists (I assume it was an off-shoot of the Moers music festival). I've got a couple of their other releases by Ronald Shannon Jackson and Phalanx (Ulmer's other "out" group with another great tenor, George Adams). The remainder of the Ensemble's releases were on the Japanese Label, DIW (and appear to be available to buy for download nowadays) and appeared several years later, between 1988 and 1996, when Blood's guitar tone was a little more genteel than it was here. This is like the freer tracks on his early Columbia albums, but taken a whole lot further out than they were.

Terrific sound on this recording too, although Blood's improvised vocals on 'Sound Check' seem a bit distorted. Perhaps the engineers weren't ready for him to start yakking along with the music in phrasebok German.

Jackson would appear on the Ensemble's next, self-titled, album along with Murray and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Thereafter, Ali would return to the bass seat, and join with Cornell Rochester as the rhythm section for most of their remaining albums. All of the albums are worth checking out if you have a mind to do it.

James Blood Ulmer: guitar and vocal
David Murray: tenor saxophone
Amin Ali: electric bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums and percussion

Recorded at Studio 57, Dusseldorf, June 1980.

A1: Time Table (10:00)
A2: Big Tree (8:45)
B1: Baby Talk (9:36)
B2: Sound Check (8:06)

Moers Music, West Germany. Cat # 01073

320kbps mp3
[Links fixed 21/1/12]