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…
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