Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ian McLagan

David Greenberger, Ian McLagan, ht & Robyn Hitchcock
Kennedy's, NYC, April '02

Got a new cd - Never Say Never - from Ian McLagan in the mail, yesterday. The album features his usual crew, The Bump Band and this time, Patti Griffin guests on a righteous tearjerker called 'When The Crying is Over', no doubt about his wife Kim, tragically taken in a car crash last year. Glyn Johns does the honours on faders 'n' knobs and if you need more McLagan, he's all over Billy Bragg's new one, 'Mr. Love & Justice', too.

Mac, of course, first came to prominence as a member of the Small Faces. I became aware of them in 1965 when the band performed on 'Crackerjack', a
noisy and chaotic kids' tv program the BBC broadcast from The Shepherd's Bush Empire. "It's Friday, it's five to five - and it's Crackerjack!" The show featured skits and competitions (where a Crackerjack pencil was a most coveted prize!) but, for me, the best thing about it was getting to see performers like Adam Faith, Billy Fury, The Who and The Spencer Davis Group in the early stages of their careers. When The Small Faces appeared, front-man Steve Marriott made a huge impression. I was 12, he was probably just 17. No one (in my tiny world-view at the time) had dressed sharper or looked cooler, and his voice - like Van Morrison's - cut through to the bone. He clearly loved what he was doing and, instantly, The Small Faces became one of my favourite groups, alongside Them and The Rolling Stones. Thank god my uncle worked at Decca! Back in 1988, the Georgia Satellites had Mac play some fierce Jerry Lee-style piano on their second album, 'Open All Night' and had raved about what great guy he'd been on the sessions (full of stories etc.), so I was always looking forward to the day when our paths would cross. 10 years later, when Billy Bragg came to New York's Irving Plaza with his Blokes, I finally got to meet Mac. Since then, I've run into him in Austin, TX a few times, caught him at ASCAP where he read from, and talked about his terrific book, 'All The Rage' to an invited audience, hung out at Kennedy's (a bar on 57th Street in Manhattan) and invited him to guest on The Star Spangles' 'Dirty Bomb' album. He's an immensely talented player, a gifted song-writer, remarkably funny, has stories for miles and can out-drink everyone I know (Guinness) without embarrassing himself. Diamond geezer.

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