Why You Should Be Excited About A Possible Faces Reunion Tour

THEFACESI included the Faces on my list of Top 100 Rock Acts of All Time, but their greatness is more of the back-room variety, since superstars they were not. They released four albums in four years, and none of them were considered a major hit. Officially only one single made the U.S. charts. Yet their bloodlines reached far and wide among Rock greatness, and their influence continues to reverberate through Rock music today.

At a time when hard rock bands were either turning the knobs to 11 or becoming all heavy and consumed with seriosity, the Faces were careening recklessly but skillfully through rock and blues and English folk idioms with a raggedy, good-time vibe. The nearest parallel musically would have been the Stones, but instead of kink and depravity, the Faces delivered more of a drunken sincerity. The Stones would never have written a song as earnest as “Ooh–La-La”.

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The Faces total lack of pretentiousness and their loose-occasionally-sloppy approach to music-making endeared them not only to punk rockers of the ‘80s, but also to ‘90s-era rock acts. And their personnel affiliations also represent an entire chapter in ’60s and’70s Rock history.

When pioneering Rock vocalist Steve Marriott left the Small Faces to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton in 1969, it left the rest of the band looking for a lead vocalist and lead guitarist. In came Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood from the Jeff Beck Group, and the Small Faces became the Faces.

Rockin’ Rod was never really all that committed to the Faces because he was pursuing a solo career at the same time. He played with some but not all the Faces on his solo work, and hits like “Maggie May”, “Every Picture tells A Story” and “You Wear It Well” sound like the Faces but are officially Rod Stewart records. “Stay With Me” was the only official Faces hit in the U.S.

There’s no way a situation like this could last, and when Stewart finally split in ’74, the Faces went their separate ways. Bassist Ronnie Lane was a strong songwriter and vocalist too and teamed up with Peter Townshend for the underrated Rough Mix album in 1975. Lane died in 1997.

Kenney Jones was considered one of the hardest hitters and finest drummers in Rock. He really drove those Faces tracks. That’s him also drumming on the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)”, a masterclass lesson on the instrument. He would go on to replace Keith Moon in the Who until Daltrey fired him for not being dynamic enough, both personality-wise and behind the kit.

And then there’s Ronnie Wood, the straw that stirred the drink that was the Faces, who’s been a Rolling Stone for more than 40 years now. His raggedy style was the perfect match for Stewart’s raggedy vocals, and along with Jones and keyboardist Ian MacLagan (who died in December 2014), he’s been trying to organize a Faces reunion for almost 30 years. But Stewart has often been a real prick about it.

In fact, Stewart was scheduled to perform with the Faces at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, but he cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.

But suddenly, things have changed.

Time wounds all heels, and heals all wounds, and good god amighty the planets aligned, and the three surviving Faces finally reunited last weekend at a charity benefit in Surrey, England. By all accounts, a great time was had by all. Wood, Stewart and Jones played seven songs, backed by Stewart’s touring band. The Telegraph raved, saying that the brief set “was worth the 40-year wait”.

This cellphone clip doesn’t give the sound much justice, but it sure looks like something magic was going on that night:

Jones, Wood and Stewart all made noises about a possible U.S. tour next year. As Neil McCormick of The Telegraph says, you can say what you want about Rod Stewart, but the Faces bring something out of him that his solo shows never will. And you really get to appreciate Ron Wood’s greatness on the guitar when you see him playing outside of Keef’s shadow. What a blast it would be to see these three Rock legends playing together again.

Photo credit: “The Faces (1970)” by Warner Bros. Records – Billboard, page 18, 14 November 1970. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Faces_(1970).png#/media/File:The_Faces_(1970).png

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3 comments to “Why You Should Be Excited About A Possible Faces Reunion Tour”
  1. This band hasn’t been in existence for quite a while. These guys are so popular still that I’m sure a concert with them at the right place would be sold out. Great demand I would say!

  2. Pingback: Song of the Day: The Faces – “Stay With Me” | Rocknuts

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