Watch Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane trade guitar and bass solos with the Faces on Paul McCartney's Maybe I'm Amazed
Ronnie Lane, bass player of the Small Faces and the Faces, and solo artist in his own right, was born on April 1st and reveled in his status as an April Fool: funny, mischievous and multi-talented. His nickname "Plonk" was derived – depending on who you believe – from either the sound he made in his early attempts to play bass or because he was so well-endowed his penis would make a 'plonk' sound if slapped on the table (yep, different times).
He got into bass playing by mistake. "I knocked about with a couple of bands that played in public houses or drinking taverns," he said. "We could never get a bass player. Down on the East End of London it seemed nobody wanted to play the bass unless he was a real loser who couldn't play a lead instrument. They thought they could play the bass cause it only had four strings. That was the attitude toward the bass.
"I was a mod at the time and I was listening to Booker T & the MG's and I was into the bass. So I thought, fuck it, I'll play the bass! I had already learned to play guitar - not very well - but I could get my hands around a song. So I talked my old man into buying me a bass guitar in 1963 or 1964. Strangely enough, that was the turning point. I went to this shop to buy the bass guitar that I had seen in the window and this little guy came up to me who was serving. I said, 'I'd like to have a look at that bass over there'. And he said, 'Ah that's the best bass in the shop. That's a great bass!' He was very enthusiastic and keen about Tamla Motown. I liked him."
The shop assistant was Steve Marriott. Together they formed the Small Faces, blending soul and rock, falling head-first into psychedelia, and writing some of the best pop songs of the 60s. When Marriott left to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, Ronnie Lane, keyboard player Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones hooked up with Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart (best known at the time for their work with the Jeff Beck Group) to form the Faces.
Their ramshackle (read: drunken, chaotic) live shows were legendary, but the Faces were more than that: a pivotal band of the period, a real band, in love with both folk and soul music and able to rock hard. Rootsy, organic, melodic, they were a good time all the time, with a great ear for a cover version.
This version of Paul McCartney's Maybe I'm Amazed, originally released on his 1970 debut solo album, is a great example. Filmed in 1972, the instrumental break starts around 3.04 but things really heat up at 3.44 when the two Ronnies let rip, Lane dialling up the thunder. Not flash, not virtuosic – but god, it's good.
There's another great clip of the Faces in 1970. No solos in this one, but the intimate filming makes it essential.