By Paolo Hewitt And John Hellier
Ronnie Lane is best known for his work as guitarist and songwriter with The Small Faces and, later, The Faces. Starting out as an image-conscious mod and evolving through R&B and folk music into a proto-hipster, bohemian gypsy lifestyle, the story of Lane’s life is told straight form the horse’s mouth or indeed, mouths. There is no prose in the book; rather it is constituted of quotes and excerpts of interviews from Lane, his family, band members, and other insiders.
On top of various musical luminaries like Eric Clapton, and Pete Townshend, and bandmates Ian Mac Lagan, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Steve Marriott, much of the real insight comes from the figures on the periphery of the music world. Pauline Corcoran, the fan club secretary who was close with the band humanises the otherworldly popstar experience of ‘60s boy bands. She took to travelling separately from the band because the level of mania was so intense that she feared for her safety. She wonders aloud how the car windows withstood the pressure of the fans bodies pressed against them. Similarly, tour manager Russ Schlagbaum offers the type of candour about Lane that would be covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements these days.
Later, as Lane’s Multiple Sclerosis takes hold, the lightness of tone is maintained. Can You Show Me A Dream? is shot through with a humour and sense of camaraderie that seems to typify people’s memory of Lane but his flaws are not overlooked either. Lane had a short temper particularly when drunk, which was often, and treated those close to him shoddily. Hewitt and Hellier have put in an astonishing amount of work to assemble this tome but you’d never notice while reading it, as it flows so smoothly. The format and chronological structure of the book boost the narrative. Everything becomes immediate and intimate. It feels like a talking heads documentary on a Sunday on BBC 4; you get whisked away in a hazy, faux memory of ‘60s psychedelia and indulgence, and you will be sorry to get to the end.