Thursday, September 24, 2009

the faces' "long player"

was there ever a band more english than the faces? of course there was; they were called the kinks. but where ray davies wrote and sang wistfully of an england that was disappearing before his eyes, rod stewart -- back when he was still a football-loving, brandy-swilling despoiler who'd never have dreamt of pitching a bitch because he didn't win a grammy -- and his mates brought a cheeky bonhomie to the purloined 'meercun forms they loved to play that seemed to be directly descended from the hands-clasped-around-shoulders-by-the-pub-pianner-singing-"roll-out-the-barrel" spirit that'd sustained their plucky island nation through the blitz.

hamfisted though they might have been (without the faces, no replacements), there was a warmth about their booze-sodden good-time music (the riddim boys' lurching, loping groove, topped off with ian mclagan's rollicking barrelhouse piano and soul-drenched organ and ron wood's clunky, chunky guitar chops that mined the same lode of curtis mayfield arpeggios as hendrix did, if less artfully) that made them much more than a lower-division rolling stones (although that's where woody wound up after rod abandoned the project for people magazine celebrity).

john mendelsohn crabbed in rolling stone about the faces' lack of direction, comparing them unfavorably with their earlier, steve marriott-led incarnation that'd given the world the psychedelic whimsy of "itchycoo park" and ogden's nut gone flake. truth was that steve (god bless him) took himself a little too seriously for a chirpy cockney chap who wanted to be otis redding, while stewart, at this juncture, didn't take _anything_ seriously: who else, in 1971, would have had the, um, balls to offhandedly toss out a line like "i'm a faggot in the first degree / but it don't seem to worry me" (as rod did on long player's opener "bad 'n' ruin")?

while its successor a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse remains their "good" record, i still see long player -- patchy, sloppy, and all-over-the-map as it is -- as their apotheosis, so i was delighted to snap up the slightly-distressed-but-eminently-listenable copy i found at doc's. you get side-opening extended workouts in the styles of stax/volt and chuck berry, two tracks of sublime stewart, two of ronnie lane's winsome pastoralism in full flower, and two live-at-the-fillmore reminders of a time when big rock concerts seemed more celebratory and less pro forma. makes me wanna take a road trip down to austin the next time ian mclagan & the bump band are holding forth. the best way to experience the faces digitally is the well-selected '99 anthology good boys when they're asleep. if you don't know 'em, you owe it to yourself.

ADDENDUM: but wait! mac's playing dan's silverleaf on 12.11.


Blogger Treehouse-Dweller said...

I had never heard of the faces...
But reading your review makes me want to hear them!

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Ash said...

Cheers. a nice read this post was.
I love me some faces.

8:24 AM  

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