I’ve always had something stuck in my craw concerning Faces, the UK band that sprung from Small Faces (Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones), establishing and shortening the name. That ‘new’ band subtracted Steve Marriott (who went on to form Humble Pie, God bless ‘im), and added Ron Wood, and Rod Stewart (from Jeff Beck Group).
Faces went the extra mile. Their four LPs are milestones in Rock music. With just the ascension of their third LP, A Nod Is As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse (1971), they hit jackpot with the amazing “Stay With Me” track, a song that soared to Top10 single height on many surveys throughout the world. While the band couldn’t match that feat with their last LP, Ooh La La, that 1973 album is home to the well-remembered title track (if you have never heard it, take a few minutes to listen to it on Spotify, or YouTube. Go ahead, I’ll wait!). Note: Collectors should know that there is a Ronnie Lane version out there somewhere that is pretty damn good. Remember, it was Ronnie Wood who originally (and amazingly) sang the track. And, of course, Rod Stewart eventually felt a need to record his own version of it (When We Were The New Boys – 1998), ironic since he spurned the vocal offering back when it was needed for the album.
By Ooh LA La, the band was splintering apart internally. Rod Stewart, who was coming into his own as a solo recording artist, found little time to provide Faces. Worse, promoters were headlining Faces as Rod Stewart and Faces (NASTY!!) Not long after the album’s release, Lane quit (due to Stewart being an abominable ass). Lane was replaced by veteran bassist, Tetsu Yamauchi, but not long after that, the band was no more.
Ron Wood would go on to join The Rolling Stones, obviously a defining moment for him (and where his guitar potential sadly diminished). Kenney Jones would become the new drummer for The Who, replacing Keith Moon after his untimely and unfortunate death. Ronnie Lane would record solo and the occasional collaborative effort until his affliction, and ultimate death of Multiple Sclerosis in 1997). Ian McLagan would go on to produce solo gems (like Troublemaker – 1979) and collaborate with a number of bands.
That was the definite end of one of the world’s potentially great Rock bands. I say potential because we were never able to see Faces scoot into the upper echelon of Rock bands. While it is now left to a guessing game, a series of opinions that count for little, I always felt that Faces could have gone on to achieve greater fame then they had received by the end of their road. Of course, they are well-remembered. They also left behind an influential legacy fully admitted to by many bands. But…
Where might they have gone had they not been torn apart. While I do admit to animosity toward Rod Stewart for his large role in tearing the soul of Faces away from its productive body, I don’t fault him taking the road he did. It led to great personal fame and riches. I just wish there was better closure.
The entire point of this possibly boring story (thanks for hanging with me if you’re this far down) is this. I wonder just how far Faces could have gone if they were given the opportunity to continue on. Could they have reached Stones/Led Zep-like status in time? Or had they already depleted themselves by Ooh La La?
Personally, I believe their greatness was yet to come. And in thinking this of Faces, I wonder how many other bands, who were torn apart by internal conflict and shifting allegiances, might have gone on to greater things? Where might an Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath have moved up to? What gems might they have produced? There are so, so many others.
Let’s hear your opinions on Faces, or any other band that springs to mind that were stunted by the same issues described earlier.