Ronnie Lane with Slim Chance

Anymore for Anymore (GM 1974)

I know I keep writing this…but I apologize for my absence and regular posting will resume shortly.

I only discovered this album a few years ago, but wish it had fallen into my lap much sooner. Slim Chance, Ronnie Laine’s post-Faces project, barely sounds like the work of a man responsible for the raunchy rock and roll of the Faces. In fact, it has that easygoing 70s stoner vibe that makes me love the Flaming Groovies and Holy Modal Rounders while nailing some slick Nilsson/Rundgren styled AM weepers. Hell,  their cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Bye and Bye(Gonna see the King)” makes the whole album worthwhile as Lane channels Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde.  There is no weak link on Anymore for Anymore. Lane manages to synthesize the strands between psych, r&b, country, blues and folk into a thoroughly unified musical vision where it all doesn’t quite fit, but you wouldn’t change a damn thing. It’s all so well-written, played, performed and produced that a cotton-candy pop confection melds into barroom boogie into a damaged weeper without ever seeming like a well-intentioned, but uncohesive collage. Lane ain’t exactly reinventing the wheel with Slim Chance, it’s just a sloppy, passionate album where everyone sounds like they are having a fucking blast in the studio. Therefore, you get to hop on the coattails of their good mood.

If you isolated the country tunes from the rest of the album, you would have the makings of the best outlaw country recorded by a British citizen. The other half would make a far better soundtrack to Harold and Maude. Both haves capture a vibe of a man whose been burned a few too many times, but keeps hoping for brighter days ahead of him. “Don’t You Cry” is an especially moving tune where Lane is obviously crushed by a broken relationship, but he chokes back the tears to proclaim that he’s going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Yeah, the imagery is a bit hokey, but I feel him on the idea that moping around in your pajamas is for the birds. The more you listen to Anymore for Anymore, you kind of grow attached to Ronnie Lane. His songs are so full of hope, regret and conflicted emotions that his protagonist seem all too familiar. Therefore, I have found myself blaring this album at inopportune moments while commiserating with Lane’s cavalcade of lovable losers and determined souls. There’s something to be said for albums where you find solace, sympathy or empathy with each sentiment. Anymore for Anymore is really an unheralded album that may represent one of the best county-folk albums of the 70s.

David Allan Coe

Longhaired Redneck/Rides Again (1976 & 1977, reissued by Bear Family in 1993)

Lordy, Lordy, David Allan Coe conflicts my PC soul. He has included racial epithets in his country tunes and there are some youtube interviews that reveal the ugly side of the man’s soul. However, it is very hard to deny the brilliance of his unflinching take on outlaw country. He is a thoroughly honest songwriter that documents an element of American culture and does it in a heartbreaking and tragic manner.

It isn’t too hard to see what made him such a squirrely individual. He was in and out of reform school, correctional centers and prison on and off from age 9. He claims to have spent time on death row for murdering a fellow who requested oral sex and when questioned about the authenticity of his penal claims, he responded by writing a musical tirade entitled “I’d Like to Kick the Shit Out of You.” Before outlaw country was just a twinkle in a marketer’s eye, Coe already sported multiple tattoo and long hair and rose around on his Harley. This made him a perfect foil to Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and others lumped into that rowdy wagon.

He already had many albums under his belt as well as a hit song penned for Tanya Tucker by the time these albums were released in 1976-77. By this point, he seemed frustrated by the outlaw country tag, but embraced every element of it as well. The title track of Longhaired Redneck sees Coe rebelling against his pigeonholing by critics and DJs while embracing “true outlaws” as he sings:

Country DJs knows that I’m an outlaw.
They’d never come to see me in this dive.
Where bikers stare at cowboys who are laughin’ at the hippies.
Who are prayin’ they’ll get out of here alive.

The loud mouth in the corners getting’ to me.
Talking about my earrings and my hair.
I guess he ain’t read the sign that says I’ve been to prison.
Someone ought to warn him, ‘fore I knock him off his chair.

‘Cause my long hair just can’t cover up my redneck.
I’ve won every fight I’ve ever fought.
And I don’t need some turkey telling me that I ain’t country.
Sayin’ I ain’t worth a damn dog, ticket that he bought.

‘Cause I can sing all them songs about Texas,
And I still do all the sad ones that I know.
They tell me I look like Merle Haggard,
And sound a lot like David Allan Coe.

Overall, he was the epitome of the genre, but George Jones’ troubled songs of addiction, anger and wasted opportunities are a better parallel than the more sensitive, radio-friendly voices of his contemporaries. By no means, were they purveyors of pop, but Coe and Jones are kind of repellent characters who aren’t just telling a tall tale. They lived what they wrote and pursued paths which were sometimes a source of personal ruin. Plus, I always enjoy his incessant jabs at hippies. They really bother the man. His salute to the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers on “Willie, Waylon and Me’ also lifts my weary soul.