Album of the Week for week commencing 28th May is The Good Gentleman’s Tonic from des Horsfall’s Kuschty Rye.
Listen to Des Horsfall talk to Ross Macfadyen about the album from 12 noon and 12 midnight on Saturday 28th May and from 6pm on Bank Holiday Monday, 30th May.
Once upon a time Des Horsfall had a Dream. A Dream about a Musical Key.
He foresaw his Rock and Roll Future, and his Inspiration was Ronnie Lane.
The Good Gentleman’s Tonic is part 1 of a trilogy of albums dedicated to the music of Ronnie Lane and the band Slim Chance.
“First pass through ‘The Good Gentleman’s Tonic’ made me grin like a fool, put a tear in my eye and even made the hair stand up on my arms. Nothing has touched my heart like this album. What was needed wasn’t someone who did a good imitation of Ronnie Lane, or was handy with a resonator- it’s the soul, the vibe, the spirit of the little bugger…and Des Horsfall has nailed it completely in this bunch of songs”.
Brian Robbins (Relix Magazine USA)
A veteran roots-rocker singer-songwriter, Horsfall’s a bit of a fan of the late Ronnie Lane, the former Small Faces bassist who went on to form Slim Chance. Indeed, his band (which features Andy McKerlie and Katriona Gilmore) is named after Lane’s 1979 single and signature tune while he says the title of the album is a rough translation from the Romany. In a way it does. Rye derives from the word for a lord while a Romany Rye, the title of George Borrow’s autobiographical 19th century novel, means someone of standing who associates with gypsies, or, to put it another way, a Gypsy Gentleman. So, with Kuschty0 is a variation of Kushty from the old English Romany word for ‘happiness’ that could easily be a tonic. There’s that’s your lesson in word origins for today.
So, back to the album which serves as a homage to Lane’s Slim Chance period and not only features contributions from original band members Charlie Hart, Steve Simpson and Benny Gallagher but opens with the same Lane arrangement of the traditional Careless Love that was the first track on debut Slim Chance album Anymore For Anymore.
Although all bar two of the remaining eight songs (there’s also two variations of an instrumental tune, one featuring fiddle, the other guitar) are penned by Horsfall, ranging across various styles they all reflect Lane’s sound and spirit.
Hard Woman offers English acoustic blues, Nothing New (a track from one of Des’ old album) gets a zydeco romp arrangement, the twangy Little Girl hints at Orbison by way of Mink DeVille, No One Talks is a waltzing English folk sway with mandolin and fiddle and both Long Long Time and Something’s Wrong are catchy country-rockers with big singalong chorus hooks.
Of the two covers, acoustic jangling strum Random Acts of Kindness was written by PJ Wright (who also plays dobro and pedal steel on Careless Love) and originally appeared with a more trad folk sound on his own Hedge of Sound. The other, fittingly enough, is a faithful version of Lane’s own The Poacher, although this doesn’t come until the end of Unwinese Mix (The Quest For The Key To The Tune Of Life Itself), a 21 minute mix of all the songs (in a different order) intercut by the late Professor Stanley Unwin’s son John who (in an nod to dad’s appearance on the Happiness Stan suite of songs from the Small Faces’ Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake) narrates a whimsical account of the album’s making in his father’s invented gobbledigook.
And if you’re not already persuaded this is a labour of love, the whole thing comes packaged in a hard back book style case with short romanticised chapters about the album’s inspiration and creation, photos, and even a back cover pouch with a gold envelope containing a Yorkshire Gold tea bag and a gold key as featured in the story. Put the kettle on and enjoy.
Mike Davies April 2011