FacesI’ve always had something stuck in my craw concerning Faces, the UK band that sprung from Small Faces (Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones), establishing and shortening the name.  That ‘new’ band subtracted Steve Marriott (who went on to form Humble Pie, God bless ‘im), and added Ron Wood, and Rod Stewart (from Jeff Beck Group).

Faces went the extra mile.  Their four LPs are milestones in Rock music.  With just the ascension of their third LP, A Nod Is As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse (1971), they hit jackpot with the amazing “Stay With Me” track, a song that soared to Top10 single height on many surveys throughout the world.  While the band couldn’t match that feat with their last LP, Ooh La La, that 1973 album is home to the well-remembered title track (if you have never heard it, take a few minutes to listen to it on Spotify, or YouTube.  Go ahead, I’ll wait!).  Note:  Collectors should know that there is a Ronnie Lane version out there somewhere that is pretty damn good.  Remember, it was Ronnie Wood who originally (and amazingly) sang the track.  And, of course,  Rod Stewart eventually felt a need to record his own version of it (When We Were The New Boys – 1998), ironic since he spurned the vocal offering back when it was needed for the album.

By Ooh LA La, the band was splintering apart internally.  Rod Stewart, who was coming into his own as a solo recording artist, found little time to provide Faces.  Worse, promoters were headlining Faces as Rod Stewart and Faces (NASTY!!)  Not long after the album’s release, Lane quit (due to Stewart being an abominable ass).  Lane was replaced by veteran bassist, Tetsu Yamauchi, but not long after that, the band was no more.

Ron Wood would go on to join The Rolling Stones, obviously a defining moment for him (and where his guitar potential sadly diminished).  Kenney Jones would become the new drummer for The Who, replacing Keith Moon after his untimely and unfortunate death.  Ronnie Lane would record solo and the occasional collaborative effort until his affliction, and ultimate death of Multiple Sclerosis in 1997).  Ian McLagan would go on to produce solo gems (like Troublemaker – 1979) and collaborate with a number of bands.

That was the definite end of one of the world’s potentially great Rock bands.  I say potential because we were never able to see Faces scoot into the upper echelon of Rock bands.  While it is now left to a guessing game, a series of opinions that count for little, I always felt that Faces could have gone on to achieve greater fame then they had received by the end of their road.  Of course, they are well-remembered.  They also left behind an influential legacy fully admitted to by many bands.  But…

Where might they have gone had they not been torn apart.  While I do admit to animosity toward Rod Stewart for his large role in tearing the soul of Faces away from its productive body, I don’t fault him taking the road he did.  It led to great personal fame and riches.  I just wish there was better closure.

The entire point of this possibly boring story (thanks for hanging with me if you’re this far down) is this.  I wonder just how far Faces could have gone if they were given the opportunity to continue on.  Could they have reached Stones/Led Zep-like status in time?  Or had they already depleted themselves by Ooh La La?

Personally, I believe their greatness was yet to come.  And in thinking this of Faces, I wonder how many other bands, who were torn apart by internal conflict and shifting allegiances, might have gone on to greater things?  Where might an Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath have moved up to?  What gems might they have produced?  There are so, so many others.

Let’s hear your opinions on Faces, or any other band that springs to mind that were stunted by the same issues described earlier.

By MARowe

10 thoughts on “Poll: What May Have Become of…?”
  1. The band that I equate the Faces to are the Replacements. Spectacular band, spectacular songs but still could have been so much more. I remember reading an interview Paul Westerberg gave in the 80s where he talked about seeing the Faces as a kid and the effect it had on him. Coincidentally or not, that was the tour the Faces had a bar complete with bartender on stage with them. In the end, much like the Replacements, criminally underrated and under appreciated but ultimately, they sabotaged themselves.

  2. I don’t know. What if Guns and Roses wouldn’t have imploded after the Use Your Illusion tour? What if Bonzo hadn’t of died? What if Bon Scott hadn’t of died? What if Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t have died? What if the Beatles had stayed together?
    I know all those bands had made their mark and arguably had reached the highest level but life is full of what ifs.
    Egos, drugs, differing agendas, pettiness, money that comes with success, money that doesn’t come with lack of success, families, all take their toll.
    This question is just too out there for me. Never was a big Faces fan but there have been lots of other groups that I liked that broke up or lost key members and were never the same. All I can say is the shelf life of a band is what it is.

  3. Very controversial band indeed. Long as I remember, the sound in their records was a mess, and they didn’t care too much. Rod himself describes them as “second-rate Rolling Stones”. They had the potential, and the songs, of course, as the wonderful “Five guys …” box set, with all the amazing previously unreleased stuff, proves. But remember Yoko Ono words: “If we all have fond memories of the Beatles, is because they broke up before deteriorating”. So did The Faces. By 1974 the party was over: Plonk had left, Tetsu had problems with the musicians’ union, Ron was dying to join the Stones, and Rod had something else in mind. So, I think they did right. They wil always stay young. And the “Rod Stewart and the Faces” moniker was never welcome by Rod anyway. Don’t blame him. He just happened to become an international star on his own. Any other singer with a massive hit like “Maggie May” would have left the band instantly.

  4. The only ‘stable’ band I can think of is ZZ Top. Even others that are ‘long in the tooth’ have accommodated the transition of members. Specifically, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones have seen altered line-ups. What lends credence to those who stick around is their ability to maintain the fan base, sound, style, etc. of the original line up. Fleetwod Mac is a good counter example. They’ve been around for decades, but anyone who listens understands that the FM of the 60s is quite different from the FM of the 70s! I tend to agree that the ‘shelf life of a band is what it is.’ Many bands stick around long after their shelf life. We should be thankful for the great music we got from Faces (although I also agree that their sound was rather messy!) and other bands while they had the chemistry and the magic. In the case of the Faces, we can point out the circumstances of their demise, for others, it’s not that easy to distinguish when the chemistry ended.

  5. Joe Cocker should’ve kept the Grease Band. David Bowie should’ve stuck with the Spiders awhile longer.And it would’ve been nice to have had more from the original Alice Cooper group. I also think R.E.M. quit too soon. (Just kidding about that last one. I actually like R.E.M., but felt they did the right thing by calling it a day.)

  6. Three of my favorite unsung bands are The Faces, Humble Pie, and Free. A lot of Rock fans are not familiar with these bands and all should be played more on the radio than they are. Free had the great guitarist Paul Kossoff who played with an unbridled passion. Bassist Andy Fraser was a teenager when he started in the band. Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton were a great duo fronting another great rhythm section in Humble Pie. Their Live Fillmore album is a must for any Rock fan. And as just mentioned you have The Faces which time has almost dubbed them Rod Stewarts band. Great musicians with a catalog of songs that have been lost to the Deep Tracks station on satellite radio such as Miss Judy’s Farm, Bad N Ruin, and Debris. .

  7. To me, the real tragedy with the Faces is not the waste of Rod Stewart’s tremendous talent, evidenced on Gasoline Alley and Every Picture, transformed into the MOR crap he’s now producing. The heart of the band, as well as Small Faces before it, was always Ronnie Lane, who always produced truly moving music, with those two groups, with Townshend, and with this post-Faces bands and solo. Lots of that stuff is sadly obscure, but well worth checking out. How tragic that he was stuck with lead singers who were two of the biggest a-holes in music history, and then contracted MS, leading to his untimely death. The Passing Show DVD tells all of this sad story. As for Rod, the answer to his musical sexy question is an emphatic no, you self-absorbed twat.
    YMMV.

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