Des tribute is a heartfelt tonic

A MUSICIAN’S tribute to the late rock star Ronnie Lane has received the ultimate accolade.

Thursday, 17th March 2011, 11:39 am

Hebden Bridge based Des Horsfall began working on his new album, The Good Gentleman’s Tonic, with his band Kuschty Rye three years ago and he is amazed and delighted at the world famous musicians who have not only given it their backing but also played on the record!

On some cuts Des has virtually reunited Lane’s Slim Chance band, which included top early 70s musicians like Benny Gallagher, Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson.

Legendary Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who was a good friend of Lane, says the mix of originals and the odd re-working - a stunning version of Ronnie’s hit The Poacher - has captured the bucolic nature of the man’s mid 70s recordings perfectly.

“Pete was going to play on the album but when he listened to the tapes didn’t know where he could fit on it musically. He and Charlie Hart said ‘You’ve got the feeling of Ronnie’s music - you’ve nailed the sound,’ said Des.

“When the project got under way I thought I had to get Slim Chance on this and made contact with them, beginning with Billy Livesey, then Benny Gallagher and the others - by the end I had reunited Slim Chance!”

Des admits he was apprehensive of how the Small Faces and Faces star’s family - Ronnie, who had multiple sclerosis, died in 1997 - might receive it, but they were more than supportive and hope to attend one of the tour dates to support the record, at Bishop’s Castle.

“I have become friends with Ronnie’s wife Katy and his sons Reuben and Luke. They were so welcoming and we have developed a good friendship.”

A contribution of £1 from the sale of each album will go to the Multiple Sclerosis Trust in Lane’s memory. It is the first album of a trilogy which will take Lane’s music as an inspiration.

The record has a media-only launch at Shibden Hall next Friday, March 25.

There are local gig dates at Sowerby Bridge Puzzle Hall on April 29 and home turf concerts at Hebden Bridge Trades Club either side on Friday, April 15 (a multiple sclerosis charity benefit), and Thursday, June 16 (an acoustic show with Benny Gallagher guesting).

Finally, the album is rounded out by “Unwinese” linking narration courtesy of John Unwin.

John is the son of the late comedian Stanley Unwin, who famously narrated the second side of the Small Faces’ 1968 number one album Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake in his legendary gobbledegook.

“Stanley taught John Unwinese. He’s a lovely bloke and although we had developed the linking story he put in bits of his own and it is fantastic,” he said.

Much of The Good Gentleman’s Tonic was recorded at Des’s Valve Studios in Halifax and in analogue rather than digital. It gives the music a feeling of warmth, exactly like Lane’s wonderful mix of rock, folk and country all those years ago.