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Ian McLagan at Joe’s Pub November 12th, 2009: Waffling, Affabling, Bumping

Former Face, former Small Face, sessionsmens sessionman. keyoard player’s keyboard player, member of  Billy Braggs band, the Blokes. Austin residenceand always affable Ian McClagan during his hour long set at Joe’s Pub inadvertently expressed a big reason he is not basking in a mansion once owned by AA Milne: he doesn’t write very good songs.

The revelation came during a cover of the late Ronnie Lane’s excellent “Debris”. The cover missed that wonderful guitar lick but that’s what all it lost: the song, long gone, came to life again and McClagan’s often rhythmic playing gives into into the dedicated lick underpining Lane’s tribute to his father. McClagan can’t write that well -McClagan is good but the songs are not 100% there. Lane wasn’t particulalrly wealthy when he passed either and I know it’s a little wet but I wish they both had been. If Ian isn’t the greatest songwriter ever, he does have a heart and a soul and a history. Much worse songwriters have had bigger solo careers. 

Last night McClagan took us  for a truncated visit to his life and it is a pretty good one. After the Faces broke up, McClagan was given 100K in bucks and 100K in cocaine and told to make a solo album and he plays us the title track “Little Trouble Maker”. After the bloke who hired him was canned from Mercury, McClagan’s album was forgotten and stiffed. McClagan moved to LA but settled in AUstin and has been home recording ever since.

The title track of his album Never Say Never is rollicking and fun, “Little Girl” an all out boogie, :She’s With Angels” heart felt and sad -not written about his late wife Kim McClagan but for a “brother” member of the Blokes whose wife also died.

Ian invites on stage the guitarist for his band the Bump and there is such an air of easygoing professionalism about the set. McClagan is no nostalgia act, he has never stopped writing music, unlike, say Rod Stewart. 

And though it’s sad to Ian  him say how much he could use $200,000 today, he is simply wrong if he thinks his legacy will ever really pass. Among his many accomplishments, McClagan played keys on Every Picture Tells A Story and Never A Dull Moment  (OMG: that’s him on “Los Paraguayos”), and has played with everybody from Taj Mahal to Bob Dylan -Townesend, the Stones,  Chuck Berry… the list is huge and you can check it out yourself on ianmclagan.con.

Ian tells stories and looses the plot, he sips at his beers and plays wonderfully well all his songs. Cost: $15. But really, you can’t put a price on the the guy.

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