Ronnie Lane

Ain't No One Like

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This double-album set is a good introduction to the career of one-time Small Faces/Faces bassist Ronnie Lane. Made up primarily of rootsy rock & roll of the light 'n' loose variety recorded between 1973 and 1981, it gives a fair indication of Lane's songwriting skills and laid-back style, and reflects the obvious contribution he made to the illustrious bands he belonged to. Many music fans might not suspect that Lane contributed a significant amount of material to those outfits, since the limelight tended to fall on "rock star" types Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Steve Marriott. In fact, Lane co-wrote pop classics "Itchycoo Park," "Tin Soldier," "Lazy Sunday," and "Ooh La La," to name but a few. And most of Ain't No One Like sounds like lo-fi versions of Faces studio outtakes (there are actually re-recordings of some of Lane's Faces songs included here). A few reasonably strong numbers pepper the set, but for the most part "pleasant" seems a more apt adjective. The so-so recording quality and Lane's relatively weak/bland voice don't do the material any favors, but nor do they undermine the album as a good listen for fans of vintage rock who aren't looking for a rise in their pulse rates. The strongest part of the set is the clutch of live numbers that come toward the end of the second disc (during which it's a particular treat to hear the ivory tickling of the late Ian Stewart, the so-called "sixth Rolling Stone"). Even with its moments of country, boogie-woogie, and blues, this is a very British record. It's also a very down-to-earth record, just like the man himself. Full of decent pub tunes -- as well as covers of the Stones' "Sweet Virginia" and Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" -- this is breezy, boozy stuff that harks back to rock's more innocent days.

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