Friday, July 5, 2013

Rough Mix

Late 1976 Ian Stewart got involved in recording sessions with his old mates Ronnie Lane and Pete Townshend, who had joined together to make an album. Faces biographer Andy Neill recalls: "The sessions for what became "Rough Mix" continued intermittently throughout September and November '76 and into the New Year with a cast of friends including Charlie Watts, Ian 'Stu' Stewart, Charlie Hart, Billy Nicholls, Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle. Playing a significant part was Eric Clapton, with whom Lane had recently become acquainted.

Ian Stewart called Ronnie one day and mentioned, 'Oh, by the way I ran into Eric the other day and he asked how you were'. Ronnie was mystified: 'What the fuck does Clapton want, I don't even know him that well'. Stu kept saying Eric's been asking after you so Ronnie asked Stu for his number. Ronnie made the call, and that's what started Ronnie and Eric's whole friendship. Glyn Johns, who produced the album: "Rough Mix" was a perfect title, because it had never appeared to me that Ronnie and Pete would ever work together and I don't think it had ever occurred to them either.

They were good friends through their mutual interest in Meher Baba but they were completely independent in their careers although they respected one another. I'd known both of them for a long time independently and had a friendship as well as a working relationship with them. The album was released in September 1977 to critical appraise but modest sales. As far as I'm concerned "Rough Mix" is a fantastic album. Pete and Ronnie worked together well and it was a great vehicle for both of them. It's one of the best records I made in my career, yet it was the one that got away".

Though central to the scene, knowing all musicians well, Stu played his trademark piano on only one album track, the basic barroom boogie 'Catmelody', a 'fun' song of Lane's. Line-up: Ronnie Lane (vocals, guitar)/Pete Townshend (vocals, guitar, bass)/Ian Stewart (piano)/Mel Collins (saxophone)/Charlie Watts (drums).

Ronnie Lane also wrote the heart melting 'Annie', one of the most touching songs I've ever heard. Stu doesn't play on the track, but I've included it as a bonus song. If you also like the song, please let me know! Line-up: Ronnie Lane (vocals)/Eric Clapton (guitar)/Graham Lyle (guitar)/David Marquee (double bass)/Benny Gallagher (accordion)/Charlie Hart (violin).

Adapted from the following source: Andy Neill, Faces - Before, during and after, Omnibus Press, 2011.

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