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Ex-Faces Member Ian McLagan Talks Solo Album

March 14, 2000, 12:30 pm PT

Don't get the wrong idea from the title of Ian McLagan's new album, Best of British. No, it's not a "best of" collection from the onetime keyboard player in the Small Faces (later the Faces) and sideman for Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and Bonnie Raitt. Rather, it's from an English colloquialism, "best of British luck," which he wishes to his 30-year-old son Lee in the album's title track.

"I realize now it's a confusing title for the record," says McLagan of his first solo album in nearly 20 years, released Tuesday (March 14) on Gadfly Records. "It also looks like I'm saying I'm the best of the British, and I am not. And even if I were, I wouldn't say it." Nonetheless, he does enthuse that the latest version of his Bump Band that plays on the record may be the greatest yet. "It's the right one. It's all working."

The album was produced by former Lucinda Williams guitarist and co-producer Gurf Morlix, who has since joined the Austin, Texas-based Bump Band lineup of onetime Motels drummer Don Harvey, Texas hot-shot guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and Austin blues-rock bass queen Sarah Brown. Billy Bragg, who McLagan has toured with in recent years, lends a harmony to the tune "Best of British," in which Bragg is name-checked to boot. The disc also features McLagan's old bandmate Ron Wood, who plays guitar on two tracks, and sings harmony on the song "Hello Old Friend," McLagan's tribute to their recently-deceased Faces compatriot Ronnie Lane.

Wood also jumped in to help "Mac," as the Hammond B3 legend is known, when the initial financing for the record fell through, and the Rolling Stones guitarist provided McLagan with the money to pay for the sessions. "It was pretty amazing," McLagan says. "You should have at least one good friend like that in your life. So I want everyone in the world to buy a copy so I can pay him back."

McLagan's friends and fans also flocked to a recent homecoming show at the Jazz Cafe in London, where Wood, Paul Weller, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, and Andy Bell of Oasis all showed up to celebrate the U.K. release of the album. The show followed the British success of McLagan's memoirs, All the Rage, which will be published Stateside in April by Billboard Books. Written in McLagan's jocular, self-effacing style, it traces his rock and roll travels and adventures from Swinging London in the 1960s to Austin, where he now lives.

In fact, these days McLagan himself is enjoying the best of British luck since moving to Texas in 1994. When not promoting his album and autobiography, he's been tending to chores at his 15-acre spread outside Austin, where he lives with his wife Kim (who was previously married to Keith Moon), and always has Guinness Stout on tap in a room he calls The Laughing Dogs Bar. "I'm very happy here," he concludes.

-- Rob Patterson

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