Friday, 9 November 2018

Faces - Long Player (1971)


  

Released February 1971

Recorded at Morgan Studios, London

The first two Faces albums were appealing raw and edgy, especially in comparison to the "default" Faces album, November 1971 "A Nod's As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse". This one is a bit more of a solid album than the slightly patchy "First Step" (even though there was some brilliance on that album). The sound quality on this remastered version is outstanding too. It is quite a short album, though. It actually only has six songs, two live cuts and one short instrumental. Yes, it is a shambling, somewhat ragged album, but as with the debut one, therein lies its appeal. Despite that, you get the impression that The Faces knew what they were doing. It was a sort of organised chaos. Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane wrote some great songs in this period, though, something that often gets overlooked.

TRACK LISTING

1. Bad 'N' Ruin
2. Tell Everyone
3. Sweet Lady Mary
4. Richmond
5. Maybe I'm Amazed
6. Had Me A Real Good Time
7. On The Beach
8. I Feel So Good
9. Jerusalem

"Bad 'n' Ruin" has a lot of Rod Stewart's "Gasoline Alley" album about it - that down 'n' dirty electric guitar/drums/acoustic guitar interplay and Rod Stewart's rasping, throaty bluesy vocal. He is developing that strange enunciation too, notable in the way he sings "rec-awwg-nise". This was something he would do for many subsequent years. It became as unique as Elton John's strange mid-Atlantic twang and Mick Jagger's odd US accent. "Tell Everyone" is a big thumping rock ballad, with a massive drum and bass sound, excellent electric guitar and piano. "Sweet Lady Mary" is classic Faces, although it could very much be classic Rod Stewart, as it would fit very much on to his solo albums from the same period, with its acoustic guitar backing, slide guitar solo and swirling organ. Add to that Stewart's country soul-style vocal and you have a classic Faces/Stewart number.

"Richmond" is, despite Ronnie Lane's weak voice on it, a great song. He was a far better songwriter and musician than he was a singer. The first live track is a muscular cover of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed", recorded in New York City. It has a loose, live appeal. A band totally enjoying themselves. "Had Me A Real Good Time" is typical Faces barroom, rollicking, rousing rock. The Faces at their best. "The skinny girl made it clear that she only came here for the beer....". Great stuff. Excellent saxophone, guitar and drums at the end too.

Stewart and the two Ronnies all on vocals on the slightly muffled "On The Beach" is a bit of a drop in quality compared to the rest of the material. It has echoes of The Rolling Stones' "Country Honk" about it. The live, extended romp of "I Feel So Good" (an old blues classic) is full of spontaneous live atmosphere. The good thing about the inclusion of the two live tracks on here is that it gets over the point that The Faces were every bit the live, gigging band at the time, as much as recording in the studio, if not more. This is what they loved doing and it comes across. Stewart has the audience in the palm of his sweaty hand.

A scratchy acoustic version of Blake's "Jerusalem" ends this quirky, rough-edged album. Good as it was, though, the next one would be even better.

B-

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