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Oldies But Goldies: Ian McLagan At Joe’s Pub, 2009

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Former Face, former Small Face, sessionsman’s sessionman. keyboard player’s keyboard player, member of Billy Braggs band, the Blokes. Austin residence and always affable Ian Mclagan 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 Mclagan’s often rhythmic playing gives into into the dedicated lick underpinning Lane’s tribute to his father. Mclagan can’t write that well -Mclagan is good but the songs are not 100% there. Lane wasn’t particularly 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 Mclagan took us for a truncated visit to his life and it is a pretty good one. After the Faces broke up, Mclagan 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, Mclagan’s album was forgotten and stiffed. Mclagan 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” heartfelt and sad -not written about his late wife Kim Mclagan 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, Mclagan 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 -Townsend, 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 guy.

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