UK band Faces, basically a continuation of The Small Faces that was strengthened by the addition of vocalist Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood, had their heyday in the late 60’s and early 70’s, before the solo career of Stewart and the next career step of Wood basically lead to the demise of the band in 1975. “A Nod Is as Good as a Wink… to a Blind Horse” is their third studio album, and was released in late 1971.
Faces is one of the many classic rock bands I’m fairly unfamiliar with. I’ve probably heard some tracks here and there in passing, but have never listened through one of their albums until now. The occasion for me doing this now is the Facebook group “Classic Rock Album of the Week Club”.
Having a go at this album close to 50 years after it’s release, my initial reaction is that this is a very time typical production, and one that I surmise was a lot more impressive back in the day than it is in 2018. The quality of the recording is far removed from what we are used to in 2018, and the songs comes across as rather primitive as seen in retrospect. If this album had been released today, words like rough and lo-fi would have been obligatory.
The style of music is a curious blend of Americana and blues, with honky tonk piano, blues-laden guitars with psychedelic edges and solid, infectious boogie rhythms and bass as a foundation for everything else. With the 60 cigarettes a day and some whiskey on the side vocals of Rod Stewart soaring on top, adding a ruffian edge to the proceedings.
The songs are by and far effective creations too, even for someone not all that fond of honky tonk piano. Some come across as slightly flawed, using effects that probably were inventive back in the day but only sounds dated and silly now, others come with a lot of staying power. The ballad Love Lives Here is surprisingly effective, and the infectious backbone of Memphis, Tennessee makes this one a stayer too, despite the broken bar room honky tonk and elongated features of this song, which I understand is a Chuck Berry tune originally.
The bright shining gem here is Stay With Me however. Some nice psychedelic guitar touches and slide guitar, playful piano details, firm riffs and vocals perfectly suited to the song. I was not at all surprised to find out that this was the big hit song on this album when reading up on the band in general and this album in particular.
If you enjoy vintage era blues-tinged rock with liberal amounts of honky tonk piano explored inside a boogie framework, I suspect you won’t find too many albums that have stood the test of time much better than this one. Probably the finest hour of this band too, from what I understand. A solid album that still reveals it’s charms almost five decades later.
My rating: 76/100
Miss Judy’s Farm // You’re So Rude // Love Lives Here // Last Orders Please // Stay With Me // Debris // Memphis, Tennessee // Too Bad // That’s All You Need