A strange arrangement for this band as their vocalist, the otherwise succesful Mr. Rod Stewart, signed a solo contract just before joining The Faces. Here they are, a few months before releasing their second album in a very good article once again written by Mr. Logan.
Having them a real good time – but Faces still admit to being scared
By Nick Logan
“HAD Me A Real Good Time”, apart from being a rollicking good single, could almost be a kind of policy statement or working maxim for the Faces. Though their British gigs to date can be counted on two hands, they have built for themselves an enviable reputation as a hotly unpretentious band disposed to spreading smiles wherever they play.
Even the most ardently dedicated head, into the doomy delights of socio-political-rock or whatever, has been known to succumb a grudgingly tapping boot to their down-home rock and roll.
That in the process the Faces themselves have a real good time too, and are seen to be doing so on stage, is part of their success.
“It developed from when we first started in the States,” says Rod Stewart, the Faces’ much-travelled vocalist “We were naturally anxious about how we might go down, but we thought …. It, let’s just go on and do our best. It’s natural with us. If it wasn’t I would be worried. That’s the way we work and it’s the only way we can play.
“But we rely on the audience a lot. If they are going to give us a hard time it can be difficult, but we always seem to win them round in the end. I’ve not known a gig here or in America where, so far, we haven’t had an encore.”
Natural to them it may be, but in some of the more remote and unfriendly territories the group is called upon to play it isn’t always so easy to summon up their renowned geniality.
In such circumstances, a heavier than normal burden is placed on the stimulating effects of the Faces secret weapon, which Rod Stewart and the NME can now reveal is the booze order that goes out with their roadie before every gig. Wine keeps Kenny Jones and Ronnie Wood’s spirits up, bourbon works the same for Ian MacLagan, brandy ensures Ronnie Lane a real good time and Rod himself puts his faith in two bottles per gig of Stanley Matthews, or Mateus wine as it is known in the trade.
Yet despite all that liquid confidence, Stewart still confesses to fears about how the Faces will be accepted in Britain. When we met, the group had done only nine British gigs in over a year, and had yet to venture into the provinces.
“Well, forgetting the American tours we’ve done and the fact that the band and I have to make so many albums, I think we were just bloody scared to go to places like the Marquee and the Lyceum. When we did go, we got 1,100 at the Marquee – the biggest crowd they’d had — and the second time at the Lyceum just knocked everybody out because it went so well.
“The papers have helped us a lot really, particularly on the continent where people read the English music papers. In the last week we have had tours come in for Germany and Switzerland, partly because all the papers gave the single such good reviews. Groups still need the press here whereas in the States the lifeblood of the industry is FM radio.
“It’s really nice that everybody’s going for us at the moment but the test will come when we go up North. Tomorrow will be the first time we have ventured up the motorway.”
Despite their growing reputation, the Faces are currently better known in the States than they are here, and have just returned from a second American tour which by all accounts was an outstanding success. “My Gasoline Alley album had gone up to No. 23 in the charts while we were there,” said Rod, “and the tour was the best I’ve known, including those with Jeff Beck.”
One not so enjoyable side effect, though, is that flying tends to make the Stewart ankles swell up, so hindering his weekend footballing activities, and he affirms: “Tours do you in a bit. We usually all come back spotty. I think that Free album `Fire And Water’ must have kept us together over here. We had it on cassette and played it all the time; it’s such a great album. Next tour though we’ll split into two three-week parts, with a week home in the middle. It makes it easier. With Beck we used to do 13 weeks on the trot.”
In some of the American press reviews that came into the NME office, I’d noticed the group billed as Rod Stewart and the Small Faces and put down the latter billing as an error. With Stewart’s solo albums selling well in the States, I could understand the first part of the billing but not the second.
“No, it wasn’t a mistake,” declared Rod. “Ronnie Wood and I are dead against the Small Faces name used in this country but we don’t object to it in America. The Small Faces are only known there through
Itchycoo Park which was a big single, but no one ever shouts out for it. And they don’t know too much else about the band.
“On the other hand, people say in this country that we have to live down the old image, as if it was something terrible. But that group made bloody good records. I respect them for that.”
One of the later gigs on the tour was topping over Black Sabbath at New York’s Fillmore East where, from a live recording made of the Faces set, two numbers will be used on the group’s second album: Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and their adaptation of the old Broonzy number they feature as an encore “Feel So Good.”
The rest of the album will comprise nine new group numbers and, according to Stewart, will be more like “Gasoline Alley” than the Faces “First Step.” It should be released around February, to tie in with a short British concert tour.
“First Step” was a long while being recorded and on the new album Rod had hoped to do a “Gasoline Alley,” a two week in-and-out job. The four months they’ve taken so far, though, has forced Rod to resign himself to the fact that the Faces need a long time for recording.
His attention will shortly be needed, too, on another solo album for Vertigo. He has a few songs in mind: The Who’s “The Seeker,” Chris Farlowe’s “Out Of Time” and “Bob Dylan’s Dream” from the “Freewheelin” LP — although “that may be too personal to him.”
As an album highpoint he’d had the traditional “Amazing Grace” in mind for some time, having been treasuring to himself on old recording by Doc Watson he’d discovered in Collett’s a year ago. “Now bloody Judy Collins has gone and done it,” swore our hero ungallantly.
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