Monday, August 2, 2010

The Faces A Nod Is As Good As A Wink... To A Blind Horse 1971

I mentioned this record previously. It's one of my all-time favorites, and it is not only the best Faces record, it is also the best Rod Stewart record. Some of his early solo records came close (the Faces played on those, too), but this one is just classic.

Glyn Johns was particularly hot, having just finished Who's Next with The Who, this was his next production. There are some similarities in the production. They both feature a wonderfully warm, organic sound. An engineer turned producer, Johns knew how to record.

The Faces brought their best, and that means a lot when you have three songwriters in the band. Miss Judy's Farm kicks things off, with Ronnie Wood's dirty guitar figure coupled with Ian McLagan's fine piano. A slow burner of a groove, and Rod's vocal is perfect. You're So Rude is a great Ronnie Lane tune, and the lyric is hilarious. Another mid-tempo rocker, it's shows off the rhythm section of drummer Kenny Jones and bassist Lane.

Love Lives Here is a sentimental ballad of longing for better times. Stewart sings it as soulfully as he has sung anything, and the lyric, and McLagan's piano, are exceptional. Last Orders Please is another Lane tune, and it's a rollicking barroom stomper with nice slide guitar from Wood. Side one ends with Stay With Me, just about the best thank you/kiss-off to groupies ever written, and with a Ronnie Wood riff that smokes the competition. This is the only song you need to hear to know why the Stones hired him. Great piano, and Stewart's vocal is perfect rock star attitude.

Side two opens with Debris, another sentimental Lane song, and another deep groove for a band thinking and acting as of one mind. Beautiful harmonies from Stewart, a breathtaking lead from Wood, and perfect piano and organ from McLagan. Of course as grooves go, there's none better than Memphis, the Chuck Berry classic that Rod and the boys play and sing like crazy.

This brings us to Too Bad, and the closer That's All You Need. Both are mostly overlooked gems, and Ron Wood absolutely shreds his guitar on both. Too Bad tells the sad story of being thrown out of a high class party because "we just don't have the right accent". And if there's a tour de force required, then the closer That's All You Need, will do just fine. Ron Wood plays slide over Rod's vocal for the first minute, then the band comes screaming in, and it rocks. The unaccompanied lead guitar break is wild stuff, and as Rod tells it, this is the rock 'n' roll cure.

It is the only classic record the band ever made, great from start to finish. There's a recent remastering, and a new vinyl pressing that sounds great.

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