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The Faces - A Nod Is As Good
As A Wink To A Blind Horse

Review: 177
Date: 15 May 04

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Rod Stewart - Vocals and Harmonica
Ronnie Wood - Guitars
Ronnie Lane - Bass and Vocals
Ian McLagen - Keyboards
Kenny Jones - Drums

Tracks Listing:
Miss Judy's Farm
Your So Rude
Love Lived Here
Last Orders Please
Stay With Me
Debris
Memphis
Too Bad
That's All You Need

 


Part 1

Small Faces fill large places

What a glorious band. Formed out of the ashes of 'The Small Faces' and 'The Jeff Beck Band', nobody could of predicted the influence this lovable bunch of rogues would have on Rock 'n' Roll history.

When Steve Marriot left 'The Small Faces' in early 1969, he left his band mates without one half of the song writing partnership, the guitarist, singer, and front man, so on paper not much left then. However, long time band mate Ronnie Wood was keen to step into the breach (incredibly, Ronnie Wood had been playing bass guitar in the shadow of Jeff Beck in his band for the last two and a half years). He brought along his friend and vocalist from his previous gig, a certain Mr. Rodney Stewart, who at the time was so lacking in confidence on stage that he would often sing with his back to the audience. Amazing when you consider what a microphone wielding strumpet he was going to become over the next couple of years.

After brief rehearsals the band, under the shortened name of 'The Faces', set out on the road, recording a debut album along the way (First Steps, March 1970). Although this album was poorly received both by the general public and most of the critics, by the end of 1970 they had built a reputation as one of the most awesome and lunatic live acts on the circuit. And 1971 was to be their Year.

Going from playing gigs at concert halls and college dates at the beginning of the year, by Christmas they were selling out arenas all over the world. Record sales went the same way. Nobody has been more prolific before or since. In that one scintillating year they released three albums. First the half live - half studio effort 'Long Player', which stormed up the American charts, giving them their first single hit as well in ‘Had me a Real Good Time’. Then came the international break through with Rod Stewart's solo album ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’ (a Faces album in all but name), which topped the charts around the world. So did the single from the album ’Maggie Mae’, which remained on top of the charts for weeks and was being played everywhere you went. Their appearance on English T.V. program 'Top Of The Pops' had to be seen to be believed. They made no pretense of playing their instruments to the music they were supposed to be miming to, instead they spent their time kicking oversized footballs into the crowd, falling off the stage, and letting English radio Disc Jockey John Peel (a non-musician) pretend to play the Mandolin solo in the middle, while Ronnie Lane mugged up behind him.

So when it was announced that there would be one more Faces album before Christmas, expectations were high, and the boys did not disappoint. Never has rock music been put across in such a charmingly fun way.

First up is ‘Miss Judy's Farm’, a great fat slab of Rock 'n' Roll from the combined pen of Stewart/Wood, giving the band a chance to stretch their wings. A driving riff from Woody fires the song into life before the plonk of Ronnie Lane's bass comes into drive. Kenny Jones's no frills drums lends solid support to the song, while Ian McLagan - in old fashioned Rock 'n' Roll style - sensibly sticks to the piano to duel with the lead guitar breaks. Then, of course, on top of this you have the gravel voiced whoops and yelps of that now full of confidence Rooster of the Vocals - Rod Stewart, preening his way through the lyrics with a wonderful sureness inspired a generation. After two minutes of the song, Woody slows the whole entourage down to a snail’s pace before the entire band roars back in to bring the opening song to an exciting conclusion, with each artist battling to be heard.....

 

 

Part 2

… in the mornin’ don’t say you love me

Next up is one of Ronnie Lane’s most amusing and rascally songs, ‘Your So Rude’, basically just a cleverly played twelve bar stomper, but for this dog it is the lyrics that steal the day, opening up with…

“My Mum She likes you, she thinks your swell,
Got the makin's of a Dance Hall Girl,
Your low-cut frock and your Bird's nest Hair,
Stiletto heels and the way that you swear,
She says to take you back to see my folks again on Sunday,
Why it looks as though there’s nobody in,
They've all gone out to see my Auntie Renee.”

I say be fair. Does that not bring a smile to the old laughing gear? Beautifully the band follows this with an emotional ballad ‘Love Lives Here‘. The haunting organ chords from Ian McLagen prove that he knows exactly when to stick to the piano or when to bring out the Hammond Organ. About knocking down old homes and the memories that go with them, Rod Stewart has never sung better.

‘Last Orders‘ by Ronnie Lane is a cruising, bluesing pub song about the misunderstanding between the sexes.

Then it is ‘Stay With Me‘ time. The hit single from the album is about as Faces as you can get. One of the best lads songs ever written. The entire band plays their collective hearts out, with everybody being given solo space as the song is brought to a thunderous conclusion at the end of its four and a half minute run. The sort of thing head banging was invented for. But still it is the lyrics that add wit and soul to the proceedings. Just before the band go wild, Rod sings out...

“So, in the mornin', please don't say you love me,
'Cause you know I'll only kick you out the door,
Yeah, I'll pay your cab fare home,
You can even use my best cologne,
Just don't be here in the mornin' when I wake up.”

Pace wise the foot is taken off the peddle for four and a half minutes for Ronnie Lane to sing his classic homage to growing up and becoming famous while leaving others behind, and to the duties that come with it.

But from here on out it is pure barnstorming Faces style good time music. A romp through Chuck's ‘Memphis‘ with some truly magnificent slide from Woody, the delights of being evicted from your own party ‘Too Bad’, and the perfect closer in ‘That's All You Need’. The latter two Stewart/Wood compositions bring it all round in a circle in the style of ‘Miss Judy's Farm’.

Of course it couldn't last. After one more chart topping album (‘Ohh La La‘ April 1975) Ronnie Lane left. Although he was replaced, it was never the same. As Rod Stewart gained more and more of the spot light, tension mounted, but it was the other Ronnie who left first. He joined ‘The Rolling Stones’ as Mick Taylor's replacement, and eventually took Ian McLagan with him. Kenny Jones went on to the unenviable position of replacing Keith Moon in ‘The Who’, and, of course, Rod Stewart went onto solo superstardom. However, to these old ears none of them ever reached this peak again.

As they say ‘A Nod's As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse’. And if that is not enough for you, you could try their greatest hits album, which was released two years ago (2001) ‘Good Boys Whilst We Are Asleep’. It collects the best from all four albums plus assorted hit singles, but fortunately nothing from their dreadful live album ‘Coast to Coast‘, which was recorded on their last tour of America, and did not find the Band on a good night. A dreadful shame really, as the period that this album comes from they were one of the best live Rock 'n' Roll band in the world.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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