RONNIE LANE AND SLIM CHANCE
Ooh La La: An Island Harvest
After co-founding two of England’s greatest rock ’n’ roll bands — ’60s mod godheads the Small Faces and their boozy ’70s successors the Faces — Ronnie Lane took off in a less raucous, yet equally audacious, direction when he went solo in 1973. Launching the sprawling acoustic combo Slim Chance, Lane set about creating a distinctive brand of rustic British alt-country/folk-rock that rocked with celebratory abandon while mining the undercurrent of introspective melancholy that Lane brought to the Faces’ best work. Lane made much of his most expressive and accomplished music during this period, until his performing career was ended by the multiple sclerosis which eventually took his life (after a fondly-remembered stint living in Austin) in 1997.
The two-disc, 37-track Ooh La La: An Island Harvest — drawn from Lane’s stint with Island Records, which yielded his two best solo efforts, 1974’s Slim Chance and 1976’s One for the Road — is hardly a perfect anthology. The liner notes are amateurish, the recording info is skimpy, and the sequencing reverses the chronology of the two albums. But it’s still the best Lane collection currently available and a fine introduction to his post-Faces career. With various key non-Island songs (including the bittersweet title anthem) substituted by live tracks, alternate takes, BBC sessions and previously unreleased versions, Ooh La La proceeds in an appropriately shambling yet purposeful fashion, gathering nearly two and a half hours of music — nearly all of it memorable and affecting. — SCOTT SCHINDER