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Sonic Gems: Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane – Rough Mix

John Maxwell March 19, 2015 Music Reviews No Comments

Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts and John Entwistle, among others, created this eclectic album that, sadly, many listeners have never even heard of.

1977’s “Rough Mix” was only the second project outside The Who that Townshend produced following his 1972 solo debut, “Who Came First” (which, interestingly, also featured Lane). Lane had achieved critical accolades and some amount of fame with the Small Faces and then The Faces, but when “Rough Mix” was recorded, Lane was at the helm of his oft-loved, but short-lived Slim Chance band — far from the spotlight his former bands (or Townshend, for that matter) enjoyed. The freedom of being outside of the spotlight allowed Lane and Townshend to combine forces and create an album warmer and earthier than either of their bands were cutting at the time.

Each leader contributes brilliant songwriting and never, to my ears, outshines the other. That, in and of itself, is pretty amazing. But considering the talents here, such mutual consideration also speaks to the real strength of this collaboration.

While the musicianship is spot-on, this is really a songwriter’s album, first and foremost. And what great songs they are. As soon as I gravitate toward a favorite Townshend number, like the stunning “Street In The City,” I am conversely pulled in by Lane gems like the tender “April Fool” or “Annie.” Lane’s seemingly auto-biographical “Nowhere To Run” makes his case even more solid. Townshend’s infectious “My Baby Gives it Away” launches the album, and his mysterious “Misunderstood” and the introspective “Keep Me Turning” anchor the proceedings farther in.

While Townshend has had a career of off-and-on greatness, Lane’s post-Faces work never again hit such a high-water mark as “Rough Mix.”

John Maxwell

John Maxwell

John Maxwell is a marketing analyst with Music Audience Exchange and has over 20 years of marketing and media buying experience across a range of industries. John writes about overlooked, yet exceptional albums in his SONIC GEMS column for Music Marketing Money. John has a BA in Public Relations from SMU.
John Maxwell

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