Faces

The Faces were an English hard-rock/soul band that released four studio albums between 1970 and 1973 on Warner Bros. They assembled in 1969 when singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ron Wood, both recently of the Jeff Beck Group, stepped into the Small Faces to fill the guitar–vocal talents of Steve Marriott, who moved on to Humble Pie. The band dropped “Small” from the name since the two new members exceeded the short heights of band elders Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Ian McLagen.

The Faces’ five-year run overlapped with Stewart’s rise to international superstar status.

Members: Rod Stewart (lead vocals, 1969-75), Ron Wood (guitar, vocals), Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals, 1969-73), Kenney Jones (drums), Ian McLagan (keyboards), Tetsu Yamauchi (bass, 1973-75), Glen Matlock (bass, 2010-present), Mick Hucknall (lead vocals, 2010-present)


Background

The Faces resulted from a gap left by Steve Marriott, the guitarist and vocal belter of pop-rockers the Small Faces. After his January 1969 departure to Humble Pie, the remaining band — bassist–singer Ronnie Lane, drummer Kenney Jones, and keyboardist Ian McLagen — needed to fill his double-roll.

That May, the three Small Faces partook in Quiet Melon, a blues-rock-soul project headed by former Artwoods singer Art Wood and bassist Kim Gardner of Ashton Gardner & Dyke. Also present was Wood’s younger brother, guitarist Ron Wood, a former bandmate of Gardner’s in The Birds and The Creation; plus Ron’s current bandmate in the Jeff Beck Group, singer Rod Stewart.

Stewart emerged earlier that decade as a blue-eyed-soul singer on London’s nascent R&B–beat scene. In 1964, he cut a single under his own name and one with Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men. The following year, he and Baldry formed the unrecorded blues-rock septet Steampacket with future members of Trinity. In 1966, he cut two singles with the similar Shotgun Express, featuring the nucleus of the soon-to-be Fleetwood Mac.

In February 1967, Stewart joined the Jeff Beck Group, which the guitarist formed after his dismissal from the Yardbirds. The group also featured guitarist Ron Wood, who played bass on the 1968–69 albums Truth and Beck-Ola.

Tension mounted between the Beck and Stewart–Wood camps just as the pair partook in Quiet Melon, which generated three songs: “Diamond Joe,” “Engine 4444,” and “Instrumental” (unreleased until 1995).

Weeks later, Stewart and Wood left Beck to jointly fill Marriott’s vacated role in the Small Faces. Before they commenced with band activities, Stewart recorded his first solo album during June–August 1969 at Lansdowne and Olympic Studios, London, with help from Wood, McLagen, Keith Emerson, and members of Steamhammer.

Since Stewart (5’10”) and Wood (5’9″) exceeded the maximum height (5’6″) of the preexisting band, they dropped “Small” from the name. As Faces, they sought to distinguish their newfound blues-rock-soul approach from the beat-mod-psych style and image of the prior band.


First Step 

Faces released their first album, First Step, on March 27, 1970, on Warner Bros. Guitarist Ron Wood composed the instrumental “Pineapple and the Monkey” and co-wrote “Around the Plynth” with singer Rod Stewart, who duets with bassist Ronnie Lane on “Shake, Shudder, Shiver” and “Nobody Knows,” both Lane–Wood compositions. The three joint wrote “Flying.”

Lane submitted “Stone” and “Devotion” (another Stewart duet) while keyboardist Ian McLagan co-wrote the final two songs with drummer Kenney Jones (“Looking Out the Window”) and Stewart (“Three Button Hand Me Down”). Side One opens with the Bob Dylan cover “Wicked Messenger.”

1. “Wicked Messenger” (4:00)
2. “Devotion” (4:48)
3. “Shake, Shudder, Shiver” (3:09)
4. “Stone” (5:33)
5. “Around the Plynth” (5:45)

6. “Flying” (4:10)
7. “Pineapple and the Monkey” (4:23)
8. “Nobody Knows” (4:04)
9. “Looking Out the Window” (5:00)
10. “Three Button Hand Me Down” (5:30)

Recorded December 1969 – January 1970 at De Lane Lea Studios, London
Martin Birch – engineer
Faces – producer

Rod Stewart – lead and backing vocals, harmonica, banjo (4)
Ronnie Lane – bass, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals, lead vocal (4), co-lead vocal (2,3 & 8)
Ronnie Wood – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, second bass guitar (10), backing vocals
Ian McLagan – Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric and acoustic pianos, backing vocals
Kenney Jones – drums and percussion


Long Player

Faces released their second album, Long Player, in February 1971 on Warner Bros. It features two songs (“Tell Everyone,” “Richmond”) by bassist–singer Ronnie Lane, who co-wrote “On the Beach” with guitarist Ron Wood. Singer Rod Stewart collaborated with the pair on two songs (“Sweet Lady Mary,” “Had Me a Real Good Time”) and co-wrote “Bad ‘n’ Ruin” with keyboardist Ian McLagen.

Long Player contains live renditions of songs by Paul McCartney (“Maybe I’m Amazed”) and American bluesman Big Bill Broonzy (“I Feel So Good”).

1. “Bad ‘n’ Ruin” (5:30)
2. “Tell Everyone” (4:22)
3. “Sweet Lady Mary” (5:40)
4. “Richmond” (3:05)
5. “Maybe I’m Amazed” (5:35)

6. “Had Me a Real Good Time” (5:50)
7. “On the Beach” (4:15)
8. “I Feel So Good” (8:50)
9. “Jerusalem” (1:55) is an instrumental take on a hymn composed in 1916 by Sir Hubert Parry.

Recorded September 1970–January 1971 at Morgan Sound Studios, London and with The Rolling Stones Mobile Recording Unit, live tracks recorded 10 November 1970, at Fillmore East, NYC

Rod Stewart – lead vocals
Ronnie Lane – bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocal [4, 7, first verse/harmony on 5]
Ronnie Wood – lead, slide, acoustic and pedal steel guitars, backing vocals, co-lead vocal (7)
Ian McLagan – piano, organ and keyboards, backing vocals
Kenney Jones – drums and percussion

Bobby Keys – tenor saxophone on “Had Me a Real Good Time”
Harry Beckett – trumpet on “Had Me a Real Good Time”

Faces – production


A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse

Faces released their third album, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse, on November 17, 1971, on Warner Bros.


Ooh La La

Faces released their fourth album, Ooh La La, in March 1973 on Warner Bros.


Discography:

  • First Step (1970)
  • Long Player (1971)
  • A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse (1971)
  • Ooh La La (1973)

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