Ronny: If You Want Me To Stay – UK – 12″ 
- If You Want Me To Stay [dance mix]
- If You Want Me To Stay [instrumental]
I recall reading about Parisian model Ronny and her alliance with the Blitz scene in 1981 but the records just never made it down to Central Florida, where I lived at the time. A lifetime later, I now have the first two of her trilogy of singles. Her second 12″ was sent to me by the late Ron Kane ages ago. It was a Vangelis-powered affair that failed to convince. Some months ago I ran across a scarce copy of her debut single in the US at a favorite online retailer. Now, I’ve finally heard the cover of the last Sly Stone hit from my childhood. As produced by Midge Ure and Rusty Egan. Aha! Now I’ve got your attention. What’s it like, you might ask?
Well, for a start it’s got that compulsive bass line that was the song’s calling card right up front as Sly Stone had with Larry Graham six years earlier. Once I hear this sing, that’s it. I’ve got that bass line stuck in my head for the rest of the day. The electric piano also hewed close to the template of the original. In fact, in spite of the fact that this was produced by Midge Ure and Rusty Egan in 1981, this was actually a far cry from the sort of synthtastic dance monsters that they were concocting in Visage or even what Ure was doing elsewhere. Even though the musicians weren’t credited here, on hearing this I’d bet that besides Egan on drums, we have Barry Adamason on bass with Dave Formula playing the keys here; both of Visage as well.
The keys were mostly electric piano and organ fills, with only the scantest of synth strings added for atmosphere. In spite of the powerfully synthetic approach that Ure was known for here, this was perhaps the least transgressive modern cover he’d ever put to tape. There are synthetic hi-hats [ala Talking Heads ‘Take Me To The River” cover] as well as a touch of synth in the song’s climax, that were perhaps the only overtly modern bolt-ons here. The biggest difference was down to the vocals of Ronny herself.
She managed to emote perhaps a tad deeper than even Sly Stone had! And she didn’t alter the gender pronouns in the lyrics. The dance mix had a extended instrumental break before the final third, where Ronny had a French spoken interlude complete with foley effects of matches striking and drags of a different kind taken from a cigarette. It’s a slightly more intimate cabaret version of the song, coming from Europe instead of America but otherwise this record was very close to the vibe of the excellent original. As we can hear.
The Instrumental on the flip side was just that. Ronny’s spoken interlude in the middle eight was still intact, but the rest of her vocals were scrubbed. Truth be told, her sprechgesang approach on the rest of the song hardly differed from her voice over on the middle eight. This was merely a chance to admire the band not so much re-working a Sly Stone classic as simply inhabiting it.
As for Ronny, one can’t look at her and not see Annie Lennox ca. “Eurythmics” just waiting to happen. With Ronny’s contralto vocals, short, stylish hair, a penchant for men’s suits, and photos by Peter Ashworth, it looked like Ms. Lennox was looking at not just Grace Jones for inspiration. When Eurythmics broke through in late 1982/early 1983 they even got Ashworth to shoot their photos.
Alas, this record had seen much better days. I could get a barely adequate file out of the ClickRepair software that I swear by. This record had seen a lot of abuse as it was filled with considerable noise throughout. I bought this not only to hear more of Ronny, but also because it was a Midge Ure production, and I have an eye on making a compilation/boxed set of god with all of his outside productions from ’79-’84 that will serve as a sort of mirror to this very blog upon its completion. Probably some time in 2032! So I will be trying to buy another copy of this one, even though it’s pretty scarce on the ground in America. Most of the copies of this come burdened with shipping costs from Europe A.K.A. “ouch!” And then there’s the holy grail of “To Have And Have Not.” Her third single as produced by PPM hero Peter Godwin. Watch this space…
– 30 –
I can confirm your suspicions, it is Barry Adamson and Dave Formula. Don’t forget in the same year they also recorded with Magazine that other Sly Classic Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). Wonder which came first.
Actually I correct myself, they recorded Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) in 1980, so we do know which came first.
RichardAnvil – Thanks for being quick on the draw with that info! I felt pretty confident in my guess, but couldn’t confirm anything siring lunch hour, when I write the post.
How I have adored her all these years.
I have always assumed that “If you want me to stay” was her debut.I have never heard the original.
Over the years I have managed to collect all three of her singles on 12″ and also have the Boyarde demos,which came later.It is so wonderful and strange that on the very day I record my guest spot on an electronic music podcast,doing a feature on Ronny and Georg Kajanus,your blog pops up with this classic post!
Through my friendship with Peter Godwin,I had the most delightful surprise one evening about 8 years ago,when he introduced me to Ronny-I nearly fainted.We spent two wonderful evenings together with Peter and Warren Cann.
I do have a spare 12″ of “IYWMTS” that you are welcome to Monk,though it may not live up to the audio standards you require.I will test it tomorrow and get back to you.
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Gavin – I saw the reference to Ronny in your message yesterday. Last night I was wondering what to write about today and last Friday I finally recorded the 12″ single, so last night I did a bit of clean up and editing to hear it on my device. This PPM thing is not too carefully planned out but when I get an omen I’d be stupid not to follow it through. So if you’ve got an extra then how could I say “no?” Thanks. I can’t be worse than my copy.!
I think we may have to correct the Monk, given that ‘If You Want Me To Stay’ has the catalogue number POSPX 247 while ‘Compare Me To The Rest’ has the catalogue number POSPX 289 then IYWMTS came first :)
I dream of someone actually releasing a CD of her complete works including the unreleased material (including ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ duet with Steve Strange https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZO1un_sn0c )
RichardAnvil – D’oh! I looked at Discogs which has “Compare Me To The Rest” sitting atop the queue of her three releases which usually, but not always, flow from earliest at the top to the latest release at the bottom. And looking at the catalog numbers, you are of course, correct. There. I am shamed, now.
Easy mistake. It is a failing of discogs that it does not list releases in the correct chronological order.
RichardAnvil – Yet it comes close to that trait! But it’s hard knowing when a record was released as sometimes catalog numbers don’t tell the whole story. And when catalog numbers are inconsistent, then it’s pure chaos. Though not in this case! Polydor didn’t play those games and it was my own fault.
And Peter Ashworth dated Annie Lennox during her breakthrough in the early 80s, so presumably she would have seen his photos of Ronny
Logan Sky – Fascinating, Captain. I’d read the Lucy O’Brien Lennox bio when it came out but did not remember that crucial info!