Ian McLagan: United States (Yep Roc/Southbound)

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Ian McLagan: He's Not For You
Ian McLagan: United States (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Many years ago it was my great pleasure to spend a bit of time with keyboard player Ian McLagan when he was in Auckland playing with an artist whom I have forgotten.

McLagan -- who was, in the words of Noel Gallagher, jammy enough to be in two great bands (the Small Faces and Faces) -- was very amusing and well-balanced and happily took time out to hammer the lobby piano to the amusement of passers-by.

He's helmed his own Bump Band for a long time now and while we're going to agree they are never going to be contenders, there's always something endearing about them and McLagan's playing is always worth hearing.

On this album -- his first in about five years -- his voice is cracked and live-in, but in a good way. It brings a credible touch and personality to the mostly mid-tempo songs, even on what in other hands might be throwaways (Pure Gold).

There's also some homegrown philosophy here (the easy rolling but pointed Don't Say Nothing), some downhome slightly funky country blues from this longtime Texas-resident (I'm Your Baby Now) and an understated country ballad on He's Not For You.

But where this really hits home is at the midpoint on the emotionally hurt piano ballad Mean Old World, the organ-driven Love Letter, the more strident Who Says It Ain't Love (which vaguely recalls the Faces with a laddish Rod Stewart) and the thoughtful soul of Shalalala.

A good band, a great keyboard player, songs which speak of simple truths and some lowkey unpolished gems scattered about.

Nope, not going to change the course of popular music or even gain much critical attention, but Ian McLagan does nothing to disgrace himself or the legacy he created. 

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Steve Neate - Jun 23, 2014

Was it with Billy Bragg? GRAHAM REPLIES: I believe it was, now that you mention it. Memory fades!

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