Ron Wood and Ronnie Lane – Mahoney’s Last Stand Soundtrack LP

by | Apr 21, 2024 | 0 comments

During recording sessions for the Faces 1973 Ooh La La record, bass player and songwriter Ronnie Lane was approached about contributing music for a film titled Mahoney’s Last Stand. The timing was perfect as Lane had recently grown frustrated with singer Rod Stewart and questioned his loyalty to Faces. Stewart had been holding back songs for his solo records and missing sessions, and Lane was contemplating a solo career. A soundtrack was a fantastic opportunity for Lane to do something outside of the group.

He tabbed his other bandmates in Faces to contribute to the session, with Ronnie Wood listed as cowriter on all the songs.  The session players are a stunning array of UK talent with Pete Townshend, Ric Grech and the powerful lungs of horn players Bobby keys and Jim Price pitching in.

The album is limber and fun affair, typical any musical excursion involving Wood and Lane. The record acts as a sturdy wooden bridge between the R and B roots of Faces and the bucolic homegrown melodies of Lane’s solo career. The two approaches blend perfectly in the soundtrack into a special brand of song far away from the boozy escapades of Faces .

The only negative about the record is the plethora of fine music that has been left in the rutted grooves of a soundtrack mostly unrecognized in Lane and Wood’s careers.

The soundtrack was quickly overgrown with weeds as the film wasn’t officially released until 1976. Because of the delay and relative failure of the film, the record quickly made its way to the cutout bins. Many fans thought the record was a reunion because both Lane and Wood had already moved on to other careers at that point. It had been over four years since the actual sessions and three since Lane left Faces.

While many soundtracks are incidental, this record is not, sweetly combining the best elements of Lane’s solo career and Wood’s 1974 debut solo record, Ive Got My Own Record To Do. It’s the missing chapter in the Faces musical tale, a transitional tale. A tight rocking record with a pastoral side as loose as untied shoelaces.

The LP begins with the gritty pulse of “Tonight’s Number,” an instrumental piece that pumps on the hard horns of Bobby Keys and Jim Price before landing in a mid-song after hours drift. Lane plucks bass, Woody and pal Pete Townsend double up guitars with Kenney Jones and McLagan completing the instrumental Faces line up.

“From the Late to the Early,” is reminiscent of Lane’s classic Faces cuts, “Richmond,” or “Debris,” and finds Plonk and Woody sharing lacy acoustic guitar duties. It feels like many of the songs on the soundtrack were cuts that Lane had ready for submission to the Faces but decided against it. A beautiful song, he would perform it on the BBC in 1975 referred to as “Lost,” with his band Slim Chance.

“Chicken Wire,” and its other half, “Chicken Wired,” are two different recitations of the same melody. The “Chicken Wire,” instrumental wraps itself in Ronnie Lane banjo, acoustic guitar, and shit kicking Woody slide work and struts around the pen. It also features Ric Grech on bass and Ian McLagan on piano clucking away at a high tempo.

“Chicken Wired,” is a plugged in and slowed down version of the same song but with Bruce Rowland drums. Now with lyrics as well, both Ronnie’s sing along as they humorously haggle for chickens at the local market. Instrumentally the song is a rhythmic Faces how down with McLagan and Woody flaunting their plumage during the extended fade.

“I’ll Fly Away,” is a brief acapella interlude sung by the Wood/Lane vocal ensemble (made up of the aforementioned and Billy Nichols, Bruce Rowland, and Glyn Johns). The song is like the boozy impromptu end of show singalongs Faces made famous on the road.

Side one closes with “Title One,” a sleek and funky Wood driven instrumental featuring a jumpy Ronnie Lane bass line that props up both Jim Price and Bobby Keys’ bleating and swelling horns that become the focus of the song. A more urban flavor than the rest of the record, its a groovy piece of instrumental music that could easily have been a Faces album cut. It contains all of the hallmarks of Faces instrumentals like “Rear Wheel Skid,” and “Pineapple and the Monkey.” 

An instrumental reading of the introspective “Just for a Moment” closes side one. Pillowy percussion moves the song forward as both Ronnie’s play acoustic on what is the central theme of the album. Wood also blows some delicate harp to go along with beautiful, muted guitar work. The interweaving of the guitars creates a gentle and sunlight diffused piece of music.

The next song, “Mona (The Blues)” had its genesis in the Fall 1970 First Step sessions. It was revisited on this record as an even dirtier blues and is played as a slow stomp. Fat Ronnie Lane bass and multi layered Woody guitars put down the track that Wood glides over the top of. The track is of note for Ronnie Wood’s lead vocals.

“Car Radio,” is a pulsating Motown flavored number with a “Three Button Hand Me Down” feel. Dramatic and slicing woody guitar gives the song its inertia. Lane keeps the groove on the straight and narrow while fiddling with the dial and Pete Townshend bangs on a tambourine out of the window. Thumping jamming leads the way to both Price and Keys taking solo spots in one the albums most cinematic moments.

“Hay Tumble” follows and hails from the same barnyard as the “Chicken Wire.”  Here, Woody plays some very active bass and Lane plays a strident acoustic. Ric Grech lends some authentic fiddle to this horny roll in the grass.

“Woody’s Thing” requires no explanation and is a short country blues made up of a plethora of Wood dobros, acoustic guitars and slide lines. The instrumental is anything but slight and when Ian McLagan’s piano comes in it all ties together perfectly.

The mournful “Rooster’s Funeral” is a beautiful and patient acoustic number with Ric Grech on violin and Woody again on slide. Together they create a delicate procession of melody. Lane and Wood’s perfectly sympathetic vocals come in after an extended introduction. A deep cut if there ever was a one, the song touches on Lane’s earthy aesthetic and his future musical direction. A stunning and hidden composition in Lane’s career.

“Just for a Moment,” is repeated and concludes the record properly, but now with complete lyrics in place. One of Lane’s most beloved songs, it deserves to be on the record twice. A succinct lyrical moment of personal realization, simply crystalized in song in only the way Ronnie Lane can. “Just for a Moment,” is one of those perfect Ronnie Lane melodies that recalls lost loves and warm summer evenings. 

Mahoney’s Last Stand is the kind of record the rock room lives for. The talented contributors, the songs, and the muddy history of the record makes its musical gifts stand out even more. Both Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane’s loose and unselfish kinship results in a cool and quirky collection of music. The songs lie somewhere between Faces, The Rolling Stones and an acoustic campfire jam session. If you have it languishing in your collection, pull it out and revisit it. If its not in your record crates, seek it out as its readily available for your review.

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