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Rod Stewart & The Faces : Double Delight

The Discussion

It’s a long-held one:

Would The Faces’ albums have been a lot better with Rod Stewart’s solo album songs?

It’s interesting. And it throws up an more questions; were the Faces Rod’s real band or a side band whilst his solo career was going on?

Were the Faces a band with a guest singer?

2 Musical Powers

Neither. Both Rod Stewart and the Faces were musical forces who had their power. The Faces were formed after the Small Faces, the cheeky, charming chaps who graced the charts and filled our hearts, split. Their mainspring, guitarist and vocalist Steve Marriott, left to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton.

And Rod Stewart wasn’t an unknown either.  He’d come to attention through his work with Jeff Beck and had his fans too.

This was a meeting of two big names in music, two different talents in music and they had different music deals, Rod was on Mercury and Vertigo, the Faces on Warners.

This was a fit which worked, a coming together which was open and flexible. That doesn’t sound like the music business, now does it?

Why Did It Work?

Rod Stewart and the Faces were mates. Musically. Socially. And prodigious drinkers together, after all, a ‘lost’ Faces live album was called ‘Too Drunk For The BBC’.

Anyone who wants a taste of their enjoyment together should have a look at this ‘Top Of The Pops’ performance;

yes, that is John Peel pretending to play the mandolin and yes, that is ‘Maggie May’ they’re playing.

‘Maggie May’ isn’t that a Rod Stewart tune? It is, it’s on ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’, his 1971 release. And on that album? Ronnie Wood and guest appearances by Ian McLagen, Kenney Jones and Ronnie Lane. That would be the Faces, then. And in this clip, can you honestly say that it looks like Rod Stewart and his backing band? No, it doesn’t look like that, nor does it look like the Faces’ new track. It looks like a bunch of mates having a laugh.

That’s the secret to this.  The band were mates. Wood came from the Jeff Beck Group anyway, so it was easier to bring Rod to the fold and it happened in a way we may have expected, as Kenney Jones told Loudersound;

‘Then one day I was sitting there playing, looking over at Rod and thinking, this doesn’t make sense. So the next time we went to the pub, I asked him if he fancied having a drink with us. Then  I asked if he’d be interested in joining the band.’

And as for egos, when Jones asked Rod, he asked if Jones thought the others would let him. This isn’t leave your ego at the door, this is ‘what ego’?

The Faces and Rod Stewart
Credit; Elsewhere

A band should be a gang, shouldn’t it? No one should be able to hurt them or control them, nothing should get in their way. Jones continued;

‘Everywhere we went we fell on the floor –airports, restaurants, hotels, bars. We were saying to people that you don’t have to take rock’n’roll too seriously. Every gig was like going to a party. The Faces were undoubtedly the most fun band I was ever in.’

Sometimes people feel that the Faces could have been a bigger,  better band if they had reined in the partying, honed their songwriting abilities and focused on sales and charts – songs such as ‘You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything (Even Take The Dog For A Walk, Mend A Fuse, Fold Away The Ironing Board, Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings’ but it wouldn’t have been the same band.

The open nature of the band, the way the bulk of the band and Rod had experienced high profile gigs and needed to feel comfortable. Rod Stewart had a deal when he joined, the band needed him to join, he had a yen to a solo career, it was all part of the collective.

Has there been a other high profile band which has seen it this way?

Two Parts Of The Same Whole

How about this then? You know that bit earlier about the Faces not caring about the charts enough? What if the Rod Stewart chart success, for instance with the well-selling ‘Maggie May’ and ‘You Wear It Well’, the latter from  1972’s ‘Never A Dull Moment’ were the business-smart part of the band?

Rod Stewart's 'Every Picture Tells A Story'
Credit; Discogs

The Faces cross collateralised; their party Rock fed into Rod’s popinjay playboy appeal, whilst his chart success burnished the Faces’ business appeal – after all, they were seen as an album band, and their singles didn’t trouble ‘Top Of The Pops’ schedulers.

Rod Stewart's 'Never A Dull Moment'
Credit; Discogs

Which Rod Songs, Then?

Which ones should have been Faces tracks? This is a game played fairly regularly, but we’re only talking about the first 3 Rod Stewart albums as that’s how long the Faces lasted; so of those bigger hits?

‘Handbags And Gladrags’: The Mike D’Abo cover,  lyrical, lilting version which really has a singalong at the end of the night feel. Would it sit with the sassier, Rock feel of the Faces? It would surely be an album closer and a talking point.

‘Maggie May’: Well, the band backed him up so it does feel as though this track belongs to both Rod and the Faces. Would it have sat well on a Faces album? Not really, it sounds too clean and airy, with too little dirt under the fingernails.

‘You Wear It Well’ : Now, this is closer. It has a ramshackle feel, the fiddle creates a party atmosphere, the track sways and that sounds very like the Faces.

The Faces weren’t averse to covers, even trying ‘Jerusalem’ and in 1973 a double repackaging of their first two albums, ‘First Step’ and ‘Long Player’, was credited to both Rod and the Faces.

So What’s The Fuss?

It’s just that they’re both excellent musical forces who worked so well and we’re so separate.

And all thanks to an open view and lack of ego. Two faced Faces? Never

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