Wikipedia: “Small Faces were an English rock band from East London. The group was founded in 1965 by members Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston, although by 1966 Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan as the band’s keyboardist.
The band is remembered as one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s with memorable hit songs such as “Itchycoo Park”, “Lazy Sunday”, “All or Nothing”, and “Tin Soldier”, as well as their concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake. (See fellow blogger Greenpete’s post on this album.)
The Small Faces never disbanded. When Marriott left to form Humble Pie, the remaining three members recruited Ronnie Wood as guitarist, and Rod Stewart as their lead vocalist – both from The Jeff Beck Group – and carried on as Faces.”
It’s not entirely accurate to say that Rod had been recruited from Beck’s group. By the time the Faces recorded their debut album with him (First Step, March 1970), Stewart had already recorded his first solo album with his second one, Gasoline Alley shortly to follow. (Check out my earlier post on that album here.)
I intentionally found and picked the picture you see on top of the post. Unlike a lot of bands who stare morosely, unsmiling from their pictures, the Faces always looked like a bunch of lads having a hell of a time.
I saw them back in the day at a New York emporium called the Felt Forum, now called Hulu Theater which sits underneath Madison Square Garden. It was more like a party than a concert with Rod – an avid footballer – kicking footballs (soccer balls) into the crowd.
Faces’ genres are listed as rock & roll, boogie rock, blues rock, hard rock, country rock. To all those, I would personally add loose-limbed, rave-up, garage-sounding, roughly produced rock. And it’s that ragtag “fuck it we’re having a good time attitude that was, I think, so great about the Faces. All their albums sound like they just went into the studio and started playing, probably after a pint or two. Today this shit would be produced within an inch of its life.
Anyway, enough with the bullshit. Let’s get it on!
First up, from their debut album, First Step is a McLagan/Stewart medium-tempo rocker, “Three Button Hand Me Down.” Both Lane and Wood play bass on this oddly enough. God I miss bands like this:
One of the most touching songs in the entire Faces’ genre is the wholly unexpected “Debris,” from A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse. It’s a tribute to Ronnie Lane’s father and a moving depiction of their relationship:
Oh, you was my hero
How you are my good friend
I’ve been there and back
And I know how far it is
But I left you on the debris
Now we both know you got no money
And I wonder what you would have done
Without me hanging around
Now as far as rave-ups go, you cannot – I say you CANNOT – get any better than “Stay With Me.” (Can I get a witness?) Rod loves ’em and leaves ’em in this one and yeah that sucks. But who says a woman couldn’t, especially in this day and age, take an equally cavalier attitude to her one-night stand?
“Sit down, get up, get out!”
The final Faces album in 1973 was Ooh La La. Rod subsequently went totally solo initially continuing as a rocker (apparently having given up the blues) and then later as a total fucking sellout with disco. But. So be it.
Rod slagged this album mercilessly in the press, calling it a “stinking rotten album.” He went on to say that the album was a “bloody mess. But I shouldn’t say that, should I? Well, I should say it in a few weeks’ time.
Not now. I mean, the public ain’t gonna like me saying it’s a bloody mess. It was a disgrace. Maybe I’m too critical. But look, I don’t like it … All that fucking about taking nine months to do an album like Ooh La La doesn’t prove anything. But I’m not going to say anything more about it.”
Perhaps Rod’s less than charitable statements sealed his fate in the band and the good times, alas, were gone. (The Faces, like so many bands of the Seventies, were notorious substance abusers and could even give Zep a run on the groupie front.)
I dig the title song from this stinking mess of an album. It’s a Lane/Wood number with Woody on vocals:
From that same album comes the ass-kicker “Silicone Grown.” (One of you guys did this tune not too long ago, Can’t remember who.)
Faces did a couple of nice instrumentals and I thought of doing one here. But check out their greatest hits on Spotify which has these tunes and then some. I’ll leave you here with the mid-tempo shuffle, “Bad ‘N’ Ruin” from Long Player.