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Des HorsfallDes Horsfall
Album: The Bastard's Tin
Label: Valve Analogue Recordings
Tracks: 16

Subtitled "The Key To The Tune Of Life Itself Part 2", this is the second of a trilogy of records, planned as a tribute to the late and great Ronnie Lane. It builds on the music made by Ronnie's Band Slim Chance. It includes contributions from his then muse Kate Lane and the Who guitarist Pete Townsend, whose earlier involvement with Ronnie produced the sadly overlooked but captivating "Rough Mix" album back in the day.

With such a pedigree, this release has a lot to live up. It polishes the memories, it extends the reputation, in short it succeeds. On every count.

The album starts with a short except of "Single Saddle" which can also be found on the highly recommended Island compilation "Ooh La La" before launching into a Townsend' composition with Kate called "Chameleon" on which he takes vocal and guitar duties. The track also features the twin fiddles of Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson from the original Slim Chance band who continue to this day with their own interpretation of Lane's musical history.

It's an impressive start that builds with a series of Horsfall original songs that are both a tribute to Ronnie in style and also in humour and sense of glorious mischief the former Face was renowned for. Songs that name check "I Know A Little Bit (About A lot Of Things)" a bluesy rock and roll romp. Songs written that sit hand in hand comfortably with the Passing Show ethos. "That's Not On" a humorous gentle rant at the lack of road maintenance, about potholes "I spent more on my car than my extension", it has our sympathy from exaggerated urban myth if not experience.

"Anyway", adds a serious tone as it charts the road to self-destruction with PJ Wright guesting on slide guitar. A theme that continues with "Whisky On Your Breath" a country tinged plea to fight the influence of the bottle and effect on relationships. Sad and powerful.

The Bastard's Tin is separated into three sections, all part of a single day, "Further Down The Line" closes the "Morning" part, a reflective song, looking back, appreciating what you have and changes yet to come.

A change of emphasis as the "Afternoon" portion kicks in. A jig written for Katie preludes spoken introductions to songs as Kate explains a little about her time with Ronnie and their lives together. "Going Mobile" is Townsend's ode to air conditioned gypsies. "Whistle To Blow", one of the Horsfall's best songs, is about being ruled by the clock, in this version it is enlivened by an energetic fiddle role.

Four Lane originals follow, "Stone" written as a seventeen year old speaks about his spiritual strength. "Debris" a personal favourite is given a sympathetic treatment, the vocal captures perfectly the emotion, it evokes sadness yet warmth, reflective regrets.

And in a nutshell, it's Horsfall's voice that carries this whole album, it resonates, it fits perfectly, seamlessly, with memories of Lane, they are kindred souls.

"Ooh La la" closes the section, a slower more poignant version than Rod Stewart's, it has more emphasis, it means more, the lyrics stand out.

A bit of fun at the end the day. In the "Evening", a family kitchen table sing around of Leadbelly's standard "Goodnight Irene" it morphs into a Walton's "Goodnight John Boy" ending.

The Bastard's Tin, is a lavishly packaged release, a lovingly prepared cd in a specially designed tin, the booklet includes period photos of Ronnie, the album is dedicated to Kate. It follows "The Good Gentleman's Tonic" the first release which included a teabag in the package.

Does the music require these gimmicks, no absolutely not, but they do make you smile. And perhaps that's the secret, the message I feel.

In Des Horsfall's Kuschty Rye the spirit of Ronnie Lane lives On.

Ian Cripps