Produced by Glyn Johns and issued in 1977, this collaboration between Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane was voted album by the year by Rolling Stone. Wenner’s gang were not the only ones dazzled by it. Pete’s record company gave the album little promotion, certain that he was to leave and form a supergroup with Lane. The Who had just signed a new contract, and the album did nothing but highlight how much Pete needed a change of scene.
Rough Mix is blistering in terms of sidemen: Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Boz Burrell, Ian Stewart… Pete could have snapped his fingers and have a new band within seconds. And it would have been a more fulfilling band than The Who to him at that point for certain.
The album itself is not really a collaboration in the sense of the two former mod champions sitting down and writing an album. (“What?! And split the royalties?!” Pete joked to Ronnie at the time). Rather, Ronnie had some songs, Pete had some songs and together they came up with “Rough Mix”. They only sing together in the penultimate track, “Heart To Hang On To”. They also shared a writing credit for the title track, an instrumental were Clapton and Rabbit Bundrick have their way.
There are no videos of Pete and Ronnie playing together. There is, however, this one of Eddie Vedder singing with Pete in 1999. They mix up the lyrics, and Vedder is a bit off. But it is the best that I could find for you:
To understand the way “Rough Mix” is conformed, we can use this nice little equation:
(Ronnie = Folk) + (Pete = Rock) = Rough Mix
I couldn’t explain it in crisper terms, really. The two genres are interspersed, and aside from the orchestrated experiment of Pete named “Street In The City” and “Catmelody”, (a honky-tonky swagger assembled by Ronnie) they mostly stick to this formula.
Ron’s songs are “Nowhere To Run”, “Annie”, “Catmelody” and “April’s Fool”. Pete fills his side of the plate with “My Baby Gives It Away”, “Keep Me Turning”, “Misunderstood”, “Street In The City” and “Heart To Hang Onto”. The album is tailed by a cover of “Till The Rivers All Run Dry” where everybody gets together and sings along.
Part 2: The Different Songs On The Album Described & Discussed.
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Vedder is off?!? Surely you’re kidding, he sounded f-ing phenomenal as always, nothing to apologize for in this cut