There were but four Small Faces, and two of them landed in Austin: bassist and multiple sclerosis sufferer Ronnie Lane from the late 1980s to the mid-'90s and then-keyboard player Ian "Mac" McLagan, today the capital city's most beloved ex-pat musical Brit. MS finally took Lane's life, but McLagan fondly recalls his mate's talents as a songwriter on Spiritual Boy (whose release coincides with a Lane documentary, The Passing Show). Lane's best-known song to Stateside listeners, "Itchycoo Park," is here stripped of the pop punch and psychedelic trappings of the hit version to reveal it as a sweet pastoral pot dream, but otherwise McLagan remains fairly true to the original ambiance of Lane's compositions. Numbers like "Annie" (co-written with Eric Clapton) and "April Fool" spotlight Lane's gifts as a master sentimentalist, while "You're So Rude" recalls the lusty lad rock of the Faces with (a pre-Hollywood sell out) Rod Stewart. Capped by Mac's touching song for Lane, "Hello, Old Friend," Spiritual Boy is a lovely and comfy salute to one of rock's sadly unsung master songwriters and a must-have disc for anyone whose '60s and '70s soundtrack was rocked and rolled by the Small Faces and Faces.
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