[Review] Pete Townshend/Ronnie Lane: Rough Mix (1977)

Odds and sods from an old pair of mods, with nods to the bods that made them gods.

Kronomyth 2.0: Face to small face.

I would tell you that this collaboration between Ronnie Lane and Pete Townshend is a happy accident except, of course, there are no accidents. What we see as chance and happenstance is the will of God moving (or choosing not to move) invisibly in our lives. Thus, you could see Rough Mix as a gift from God.

I don’t say that lightly. Music is an articulation of spirit. It plays a vital role in our communication with and worship of God. And because God has foreknowledge of everything, he knew the words and music to “Annie” and “Heart To Hang Onto” from the beginning of time. Our familiarity with these songs is considerably shorter but, once heard, the music of Rough Mix isn’t quickly forgotten.

What began as a Ronnie Lane solo album became a half album each from Lane and Pete Townshend, who was originally tapped by Lane to produce the album. The material from Lane is some of the best of his career, likeable rockers and acoustic numbers reminiscent of The Faces that include “Annie” (one of the sweetest songs you’ll ever hear), “Nowhere To Run” and “April Fool.” Lane has a gruff voice, but its working-class sensibilities can be disarming in the best way.

The material from Townshend is also some of the best of his solo career, which came as a surprise to me. “Heart To Hang Onto,” “My Baby Gives It Away,” “Street In The City” and “Misunderstood” should be considered essential additions to any proper Who collection. Maybe the labels didn’t know what they had with Rough Mix, but the whole thing was packaged and marketed like some incidental side project. Had it been given the herald of Empty Glass, “Annie,” “Heart To Hang Onto” and “My Baby Gives It Away” might have become classics. The radio running in our heads is the only important one, though. If you haven’t tuned into this music yet, now is your (not) chance. In 2006, Hip-O added a few bonus tracks to the mix, including Lane’s old-tymey “Only You,” which is a treat to hear.

Read more Pete Townshend reviews

Original LP Version

A1. My Baby Gives It Away (Pete Townshend)
A2. Nowhere To Run (Ronnie Lane)
A3. Rough Mix (Pete Townshend/Ronnie Lane)
A4. Annie (Ronnie Lane/Kate Lambert/Eric Clapton)
A5. Keep Me Turning (Pete Townshend)
A6. Catmelody (Ronnie Lane/Kate Lambert)
B1. Misunderstood (Pete Townshend)
B2. April Fool (Ronnie Lane)
B3. Street In The City (Pete Townshend)
B4. Heart To Hang Onto (Pete Townshend)
B5. Till The Rivers All Run Dry (Wayland Holyfield/Don Williams)

CD reissue bonus tracks
12. Only You (Ronnie Lane)
13. Good Question (Pete Townshend)
14. Silly Little Man (Ronnie Lane)

The Players

Ron and Pete play various Acoustic & Electric guitars, mandolins & bass guitars, banjos, ukuleles & very involved mind games (Pete is credited with gulps on B1 as “Bijou Drains”); Edwin Astley (orchestral score on B3), Boz Burrell (bass on B4/B5), Eric Clapton (lead guitar, 6 string acoustic guitar, dobro & foot on A3/A4/B2/B5), Mel Collins (saxophone on A6), Julian Diggle (percussion on B1), John Entwistle (brass on B4, vocal help on B5), Peter Hope Evans (harmonica on A2/B1), Benny Gallagher (accordian on A4), Tony Gilbert (orchestra leader on B3), Chris Green (principal cello on B3), Charlie Hart (violin on A4), Chris Laurence (principal bass on B3), Graham Lyle (12 string acoustic on A4), David Marquee (string bass on A4, double basses on B2), Billy Nicholls (vocal help on B5), Rabbit (organ, piano, Fender Rhodes on A2/A3/A4/B4), Steve Shingles (principal viola on B3), Henry Spinetti (drums on A2/A3/A4/B4/B5), Ian Stewart (piano on A6), Charles Vorsanger (principal 2nd violin on B3), Charlie Watts (drums on A1/A6). Produced & engineered by Glyn Johns; assistant engineer: Jon Astley.

The Pictures

Cover concept & design by Peter Joyce. Art direction by Jo Mirowski. Lettering by Susan Joyce. Inside photo & title by Martin Cook. Co-ordination by Chris Chappel.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on September 16, 1977 in the UK (Polydor, 2442 147), the US (MCA, MCA-2295) and Australia (Polydor, 3170 452) with gatefold cover; reached #44 on the UK charts and #45 on the US charts. US and UK versions feature different covers.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the UK (Polydor Special Price Series, 2482 488).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1983 in the UK (Polydor, SLELP 55) and the US (Atco, 90097-1/4) without gatefold cover.
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Atco, 90097-2).
  4. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2006 in the US (Hip-O) with 3 bonus tracks.
  5. Re-released on 180g vinyl on March 21, 2007 in Japan (Imperial, TEJI-34008).
  6. Re-released on 180g red vinyl elpee in 2017 (Polydor, 4780139).

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