Ronnie Lane doesn't mind discussing his battle
with multiple sclerosis.
"I've been there and back, and I know how far it
is," said the bassist and founding member of Small Faces, from his home in
Austin, Texas. "Nobody talked about it when I found out I had it, and I
wallowed around for 10 years in misery."
These days, Lane is feeling better; he partially attributes
this remission of the disease to the removal of some mercury fillings in his
teeth. "All of sudden," he said, "I don't have that damning
fatigue that made it hard to do anything. It's not there anymore. I'm doing a
gig on Sunday!"
Sure enough, a few days later, Lane pulled into New York
City's Limelight club at the helm of a young Austin band called the Tremors,
with former Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keyes also in tow.
Perched on a stool, Lane put heart and soul into an hourlong
set, including Don't Try to Change My Mind (written by Lane and Pete Townshend),
a new song called Dirty Rice and the Kinks' Tired of Waiting for You. But the
most stirring moment may have been Lane's greeting: "I'm just glad to be
In 1986, Rolling Stone picked the Replacements as Hot Band,
and a year later, the rabble-rousing Minneapolis quartet hasn't cooled down.
But the Replacements have grown: their new album, Pleased to
Meet Me, features the Memphis Horns, an ersatz cocktail-piano number and a
pretty ballad about an elevated sidewalk.
They also have a new guitar player, Slim Dunlop. This
infamously loose band even has been rehearsing lately.
"Before, we would get together, bash out a few tunes,
then call it a day," says lead singer and guitarist Paul Westerberg.
"This is the first time in years we actually stopped songs when we hit a
wrong chord and tried to figure out the right one. We're working on a couple
endings to songs, which we'll probably forget by the time we get out on
Westerberg still writes lines such as, "One foot in the
door/The other one in the gutter."
"Yeah, that's kind of a joke," he says. "But
it's a fair estimation. We're playing the game -- well, we're on the field, but
I don't know how well we're playing the game."