BLUES matters issue 87

DES HORSFALL’S KUSCHTY RYE

THE BASTARD’S TIN

Valve Analogue Recordings

This is the second album in Des Horsfall’s trilogy celebrating the life and music of Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance following on from The Good Gentleman’s Tonic a few years back. Horsfall discovered Lane in 2008 – some 11 years after Lane’s death from MS – and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t more highly celebrated. In fact the three Slim Chance albums were unavailable other than as second hand. Personally I understand exactly what Horsfall saw in Lane’s music, having been a fan for many years and lucky enough to meet him a number of times, the gentle and melodic demi-Americana as well as his folky material but most importantly his emotion and his way of drawing you into his music without shouting or bragging. This album is a celebration of Lane’s music but includes a number of songs written by Horsfall that are completely in line with the music that epitomizes Ronnie Lane. The album is split into three sections – Morning, Afternoon and Evening – the first featuring Chameleon which was written by Pete Townshend (who plays guitar and adds vocal) and Kate Lane, Ronnie’s wife and muse and six other numbers written by Horsfall, Richmond Green is delightful with some sterling accordion from Charlie Hart and Whisky On Your Breath (a song to a drunken wife asking her to stop) which is pure country and avoids mawkishness – just. Afternoon is a conversation with Kate Lane interspersed between tracks and you definitely get a sense of the closeness between her and Ronnie. Great version of Pete Townshend’s Going Mobile leads into very personal tales of their time together including Ronnie’s reaction to being diagnosed with MS. The final piece is Evening, a single track Goodnight Ronnie Lane, based on Goodnight Irene and featuring chicken clucks as well as resonator guitar, harmonies between Horsfall and Kate Lane and a great sense of the bonhomie that always came across in Ronnie Lane’s playing. A superb album, very true to the memory of Ronnie Lane and guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of anyone who knew him or his music.

Alan Pearce

Louder than war – Album review

Des Horsfall’s Kuschty Rye

The Good Gentleman’s Tonic / The Bastard’s Tin

(Valve Recordings)

CD | DL

Out Now

Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews the first two instalments of Des Horsfall’s album trilogy inspired by the legendary Ronnie Lane.

Des Horsfall is a West Yorshire based musician who after a life of playing in bands and very nearly making it in the mid-nineties retreated to his hometown of Hebden Bridge to set-up his own recording facility Valve Studios. Nevertheless Des still felt that there was some music left in him. Revisiting his record collection, he stumbled on Ronnie Lane’s 1974 LP “Anymore for Anymore”, a remarkable collection of gentle and pastoral tunes that had always been one of his favourite records. Much of Lane’s post Faces catalogue was (and remains) out of print and Des felt that Ronnie’s work could do with a little bit of extra exposure. Rather than going for a full album of covers, Des with the help of his friends and musicians elaborated a plan to release a trilogy of LP’s where new songs would mix with Ronnie Lane covers and narratives.

The First instalment “The Good Gentleman’s Tonic” was released in 2011. Coming out on Des’s own Valve Records, it’s a lovingly recorded album full of good tunes and humour. Horsfall’s originals far from being carbon copies or imitations of Lane’s songs, are close in spirit and delivery with the mostly acoustic instrumentation. Fiddles and Mandolins abound. Opener “Careless Love” features some nice honkytonk piano fills and the accordion in the background gives it a distinctive sound. The second track “Hard Woman” has a bluesier feel and contains some humorous lyrics that I’m sure the notoriously mischievous Mr Lane would have approved, it also features Benny Gallagher (of Gallagher and Lyle fame) on harmony vocals and harmonica. Benny and Graham Lyle toured with Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance for a little bit after the release of “Anymore For Anymore”. The lively instrumental “Chunggdiddly” featuring Slim Chance members Steve Simpson and Charlie Hart is a nice interlude and precedes the excellent “Nothing New” with its bouncy accordion that gives it a Cajun feeling (sounds like a lost Balham Alligators track).

One thing that needs to be noted is that apart from Des, only two other musicians feature on the album, Katriona Gilmore on Fiddle, Mandolin and vocals and Andy McKerlie who plays just about everything else !!!! Much of the great instrumentation on the record can be attributed to him. Des’s songs have a more American sound than Ronnie Lane’s, the intro to “Something’s Wrong” wouldn’t sound out of place on a Tom Petty record. The single of the album “Long Long Time” is probably the catchiest song on the record, lovely pedal steel parts in the background that mesh in nicely with the fiddle while The affecting “Random Act Of Kindness” is not a Horsfall written tune but he definitely makes it his own. The instrumental “Chunggadiddlydumdee” reprises the melody “Chunggdiddly” but with a rockier edge and “No-one Talks” closes the album on a note not too dissimilar to Lane’s version of “Goodnight Irene”.

The second part of the record is inspired by the Small Face’s “Odgen Nuts Gone Flake” album and features John Unwin (who sadly passed away since), the son of Stanley Unwin the narrator on the Small Faces LP. The songs from the first half are interspersed with a story about Des’s quest for inspiration and the creation of his Kuschty Rye band. The record ends with a reworked version of “The Poacher”, one of Lane’s most well known tunes.

Fast forward 4 years and the follow up “The Bastard’s Tin” is finally available (albeit only in Hebden Bridge’s local record shop Muse Music) in a limited 400 CD’s run. The Bastard’s Tin comes in top notch packaging with the CD, booklet and numbered certificate neatly packaged in a metal box that fits in a cardboard slipcase. Des is currently negotiating with labels to enable The Bastard’s Tin to have a bigger distribution than its predecessor. The record this time is based around the recollections of Kate Lane, Ronnie’s second wife who was with him during his Slim Chance days. The record is a mix of Ronnie Lane originals and Horsfall classics and its second half is interspersed with Kate recalling key moments of her life with Ronnie. After country noises segue into a short extract from “Single Saddle” from the Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance LP, the opening track “Chameleon” reveals itself as an absolute masterpiece of a song. Featuring lyrics courtesy of Kate Lane, music by Pete Townshend (who duets with Des on vocals) and fiddle parts played by Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson, the song is an affecting love letter from Kate to her former husband.

After this we get 6 original Horsfall originals and what a selection they prove to be. The jaunty “I Know A Little Bit (About A Lot Of Things)” speeds at at rollicking pace with Des’s lyrics revolving about the help he received from Katie Lane and Pete Townshend on this record. “Richmond Green” is probably the closest to a Ronnie Lane pastiche. An excellent song nevertheless, it features accordions quite high in the mix which coupled with an harmonica sounds great. “That’s Not On” is another great rollicking tune and the country tinged “Whisky On Your Breath” shows the full range of Des’s musical chops. Another stand out track is the “Further Down Line” with its gently strummed verses and catchy chorus, that song deserves to be heard by the masses. The record is divided into 3 parts and this last tune closes the “morning” section. “afternoon” consists of Ronnie Lane classics interspersed with the memories of Katie Lane. Opening with the instrumental “Katie’s Jig”, we then get treated to Katie’s story about her escapade with Ronnie in the aftermath of his departure from The Faces. An excellent cover of The Who’s “Going Mobile” is followed by a rework of a lost 90’s classic, Des’s very own “Whistle To Blow”, a song that nearly got him a major record deal.

The next 4 songs are reinterpretations of some of Ronnie Lane’s greatest songs. The fantastic Stone written while Ronnie was still in his late teens is accompanied by another nice introduction courtesy of Kate Lane, this spirited rendition compares pretty well with the original. The legendary “Debris” (maybe Lane’s best song), gets a completely acoustic treatment where the piano parts of the original are supplanted by violin. Again a faithful rendition that manages to breathe fresh air into a classic. “Tin And Tambourine” with its Kate Lane penned lyrics is followed by the sing-along “Ooh La La”, probably one of the best songs Ronnie wrote for The Faces. Kuscthy Rye’s version keeps the camp fire feel of the version Ronnie Lane used to play with Slim Chance. The record closes on “Goodnight Irene”, a song that finished many a Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance gig.

~

Further info on Des can fe found at deshorsfall.com or kuschtyrye.net and at his Facebook page.

All words by Craig Chaligne. More from Craig can be found at his Author Archive.

The Barfly London

7th February 2015

Yorkshire based country-rocker and record producer comes down to London with his Kuschty Rye project mixing songs from his solo albums with tunes from one of  Ronnie Lane’s greatest LP’s. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews.

Following his guest appearance at Slim Chance’s gig at The Half Moon last November, Des Horsfall made his return to London with his own project Kuschty Rye. Des has been a professional musician since the late 70’s and after almost “grabbing the trophy” (his words) in the mid nineties where a record deal fell through at the last minute, he started producing and engineering records from his own Valve Studio in Hebden Bridge. Des is a long time Ronnie Lane fan and listening to the songs from his first post Faces LP : Anymore For Anymore give him the impetus and inspiration to start recording an album of new material after almost a decade spent recording other people’s music. The result The Good Gentleman’s Tonic was published in 2011 to great acclaim (Pete Townshend called it “a killer record”).The setlist mixed tracks from Anymore For Anymore and The Good Gentleman’s Tonic with a few songs from Des’s back catalogue. The camaraderie between the band members was evident and it was particularly funny to see guitar player Andy McKerlie spoiling drummers James Newsome’s success with the ladies in the audience by making an announcement he was soon getting married… The band has obviously been playing together for several years and even the fact that their regular keyboard player has to step down at the last minute because of illness didn’t affect the performance. Des played some older tunes including the fantastic Whistle To Blow, the song that almost broke him into the mainstream in the 1990’s. Displaying  an american classic rock vibe quite similar to Tom Petty’s nineteen nineties recordings, these are well crafted songs with memorable melodies. A few extarcts from The Bastard’s Tin the forthcoming album in a trilogy of 3 LP’s inspired by Ronnie Lane’s music were aired that night too. Des was joined by singer songwriter Dan Raza on a excellent version of Ronnie Lane’s How Come and the band closed the evening with a cover of The McGuiness Flint classic When I’m Dead And Gone.

All words by Craig Chaligne.

Half Moon, Putney

8th Nov 2014

Slim Chance make their way back to their spiritual home then proceed to play a storming set to a capacity crowd. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne was there.

After leaving The Faces in 1973, Ronnie lane formed his own band Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance. The band went through several incarnations until 1980 when Lane’s health started deteriorating due to Multiple Sclerosis. In 2004 the Ronnie Lane memorial concert took place  at The Royal Albert Hall and saw a reformed Slim Chance participating in the evening’s proceedings.  The man behind that evening’s line-up of Slim Chance was multi- instrumentalist Charlie Hart who after that one-off event put together a permanent line-up of Slim Chance in 2010. The band consists of Hart himself on keyboard, fiddle and accordion, Steve Simpson on guitar and mandolin and fiddle, Alun Davies on guitar, Steve Bingham on bass and Colin Davey on drums. The band are often joined by honorary Slim Chancer Geraint Watkins on keys. They have recorded a tribute to Ronnie Lane entitled  The Show Goes On that came out in 2013.

The  line-up at The Half Moon was slightly different as both Davies and Watkins were both touring with their main gigs (respectively Yusuf Islam and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings). Colin Davey has departed but his replacement John Lingwood is a perfect fit. The task of covering for the two absentees fell to Yorkshire based musician Des Horsfall, a long time Ronnie Lane fan who’s backing band is actually named after of of Lane’s songs : Kuschtye Rye.

I had seen Slim Chance previously at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham and although the gig was really good, it was nothing compared to their performance at The Half Moon. The venue was packed and Ronnie Lane’s brother Stan was in attendance as was Small Faces and Mod authority John Hellier. The particularity of Slim Chance is that every member of the band sings lead vocals at one point of the set. Charlie Hart sung lead on Kuschty Rye and Lads Got Money from Lane’s 1979 See Me album. Steve Bingham quipping that he always got the obscure songs to sing took the lead on Silly Little Man, a track first aired on Rough Mix, a collaboration album between Lane and Pete Townshend and on a spirited version of You’re so Rude. From Lane’s days in The Faces we were treated to excellent versions of Oh La La  and Debris sung by Steve Simpson (the later featuring an an excellent guitar solo by Simpson ). The highlights of the gig were an excellent version of Done This One Before sung by Des Horsfall (sounding as good as Ronnie Lane on the original version) and the double whammy of Anniversary and The Poacher with Hart and Simpson dueling on fiddles. The gig finished with covers of You Never Can Tell and Goodnight Irene (songs that Lane often used to finish his gigs with) after which Stan Lane took the stage to thank the band and the audience and then looking at the ceiling and asking his late brother for his impression on the gig

BLUES MATTERS

The good chaps at BM have given us a very nice review and placed us in their Top Ten albums list!

“an engaging mix of Country, Rock, and Folk-themed tunes”

“drink tea, and eat cake whilst enjoying Horsfall’s eccentric artistry”

BM is subscription only. You can buy BM 61 Aug/Sept 2011 at http://www.blues-matters.com/shop/



RECORD COLLECTOR

Stanley Unwin’s son joins in affectionate Ronnie Lane tribute
The prize for this month’s most lovingly-crafted package has to go to this CD-size hardcover book illustrating how aimless musician Horsfall underwent an epiphany after seeing the late Ronnie Lane’s visage in a cup of Yorkshire Gold tea during a gypsy woman’s fortune reading – compounded by a blast of his Anymore For Anymore album. For added listening pleasure, the charmingly-lavish presentation also includes a sachet of said tea.