When the late Ronnie Lane left The Faces in 1973 he surprised everyone with his next move. Forming a band, Slim Chance he took to the road in a caravan and set up shows in a tent. A world away from the rock’n’roll route his former band mates Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood pursued, Lane’s vision of a bucolic English entertainment briefly captured the limelight before he tragically succumbed to MS.
Enter Des Horsfall. Thirty years on he’s trying to capture the spirit of Lane’s endeavour on a trilogy of albums that he hopes will reflect the original Slim Chance releases. Naming his band after a Lane song, Kuschty Rye, which befitting Lane’s attempt to emulate a gypsy lifestyle was a Romany term that loosely translated means a “good gentleman, someone in touch with the Romany ways, Horsfall gives us an album of jaunty acoustic singalongs which do have a louche swagger about them. Rather than offer a straightforward album of cover versions the Lane connection consists of covers of Careless Love and The Poacher with eight self penned songs that share the loose, slung together attitude of Slim Chance. With assistance from members of Slim Chance including Benny Gallagher, Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson Kuschty Rye deliver a rootsy, acoustic based run through of blues, folk and Cajun influenced songs that approach the likes of Ron Kavana. The most successful of these is No-one Talks.
Although it’s a nice conceit to offer a tribute to Ronnie Lane Horsfall goes one further in two respects here. The presentation of the album approaches deluxe proportions. Horsfall poses with a portrait of Lane and a copy of Anymore for Anymore on the cover of a handsome hard backed case and booklet packed with information, a tale on how Ronnie influenced Des and bizarrely a golden key and a sample of Yorkshire tea, the eponymous good gentleman’s tonic (all is revealed in the booklet).
More importantly Horsfall tells the tale from the booklet on the last piece on the album. Called the Unwinese Mix he reaches back into the past when Lane was a Small Face and Stanley Unwin, professor of gobbledegook (or Unwinese), a nonsense language, narrated The Tale of Happiness Stan on the album Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. With the assistance of Unwin’s son, John narrating he reprises his album ending with The Poacher. With this he shows that Lane, despite the rock trappings always had a foot in English highways and byways. God knows what he has planned for the follow up albums.