Song of the Week – April Fool, Ronnie Lane & Pete Townshend (feat. Eric Clapton)


We were all very saddened to hear that B.B. King passed away yesterday. Of course I was tempted to pay tribute to him with today’s SotW, but there were so many words written about him yesterday that I have nothing new or special to add. Rest in peace B.B. (and Lucille too).

I recently finished Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces . . ., written by the legendary engineer/producer Glyn Johns. It’s an insider perspective of classic rock and roll that few people can offer. He was in the room when some of the most important albums in the history of rock and roll were recorded.

When Led Zeppelin recorded “Dazed and Confused” he was in the room.

When Mick Taylor and Bobby Keys ripped off those amazing solos on Sticky Fingers’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” he was in the room.

When Roger Daltrey let out that blood curdling scream toward the end of “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” he was in the room again.

As I read the book I was excited about the prospect that Johns would help me to (re)discover some gem of a record that I had overlooked or forgotten. That came in the chapter about the Pete Townshend/Ronnie Lane album Rough Mix.

I’ve always enjoyed that album but often focused on its most popular songs – the ones that got FM radio air play – “My Baby Gives It Away” and “Street in the City.” But it is a lesser known cut on the album, “April Fool”, that Johns says is “among the few moments in my recording career that I treasure.”

The track was almost finished when Eric Clapton offered to add a Dobro part to complement the song.

“I played him the track and I noticed that his foot was tapping as he ran through the song. I quickly put a mic on his foot and we recorded the next run-through. It was note-perfect and quite beautiful. Eric reacting in the most natural and emotive way to the song and Ronnie’s performance of it. Up until that moment I had paid very little attention to Eric as a musician and therefore never really understood what all the fuss was about. I thought he was just another bloody white kid playing the blues. That was very clearly my loss. In a matter of a few minutes I had been completely won over. This was a perfect example of what I have always thought about Eric’s playing. He never allows his brain to get in the way between his heart and his fingers.”

The instrumental title cut (also with Clapton on lead guitar) is pretty cool too.

Enjoy… until next week.

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