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A return of the real Faces of rock-n-roll

Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 10:29 AM

The Faces were the faces of real rock-n-roll.

They were the poster children for a legion of good-time, boogie-woogie bands that followed in their wake.

Because even though the members of the band would go on to find more notoriety, along with greater fame and fortune after The Faces broke up in 1974, they still created a template that is being followed today.

And with an eminent reunion now on the horizon, maybe The Faces can spark new life into the increasingly-dull, ever repetitive state of rock-n-roll these days.

Formed in 1969 out of the ashes of The Small Faces and the first Jeff Beck Group, The Faces were Rod "The Mod" Stewart on lead vocals, Ronnie Wood on lead guitar, the late Ronnie Lane on bass, Kenney Jones on drums and Ian McLagan on keys.

Fueled by a lust to play as loud and hard as they could, while also partying as loud and as hard as they could, this band of Englishmen was one lean, mean rock-n-roll machine.

The Faces basically forged a new style of gritty, down-and-dirty, no-nonsense rock out of their love for the blues.

Scores of bands, from Aerosmith to the Black Crowes to Pearl Jam, to Molly Hatchet, are quick to site The Faces as an inspiration for their craft.

The Faces never really got a whole lot of love from radio programmers, in the 1970s or even today, with "Stay With Me" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You," also staples of Stewart's fledgling solo career, really the only tunes from the group that made any kind of a dent into regular rotation.

But if you dig a bit deeper and explore the group's albums, a wealth of excellent material is just waiting to be mined. Check out Long Player, A Nod Is As Good As A Wink ... To A Blind Horse, or their terrific four-disc box set, Five Guys Walk Into A Bar ..., for proof of The Faces' brilliance.

But like a lot of good things, The Faces just couldn't hang together when the going got tough.

Stewart embarked on his aforementioned ultra-successful solo career, Wood found a new level of stardom when he joined The Rolling Stones in 1975, Jones later took over The Who's drum throne, replacing the late Keith Moon and McLagan found steady work as a session player.

Of all the members of The Faces, it was undoubtedly Rod Stewart that cashed in the most after he left the group. At least as far as a solo career was concerned. Wood may have earned more money for his work in the Stones, but he will always be forced to take a back seat to Mick, Keith and Charlie.

I never begrudged Stewart any of the success, fame or fortune that he scooped up in the mid-70's.

From "Tonight's The Night" to "Hot Legs" and on to "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy," he burnt up the radio charts with a string of made-to-please hits.

Good for him.

Then, after a couple of decades flying under the radar (by his flamboyant standards) he found freshly-minted glory, along with another boatload of money and fame, when he released It Had To Be You ... The Great American Songbook in 2002. This CD, as it turns out, was the first in a series of four discs where Stewart covers a wide range of famous ballads, from "The Nearness of You" to "That Old Feeling" and beyond.

But for fans of The Faces, fans of one of the greatest singing voices in the history of rock-n-roll, that was just never satisfying enough. Especially when considering that before he joined The Faces, Stewart was lead singer of The Jeff Beck Group and that outfit's 1968 release Truth is widely regarded as the beginning of heavy metal.

From that to ballads.

Hopefully though, with news of the living members of The Faces poised for a reunion, that will change and Rod The Mod will get a chance to stretch out again.

Apparently, Wood and Stewart got together over Christmas and over the course of a trip that went through Costa Rica, Bermuda and Miami, wrote The Faces' upcoming album, the group's first since Ohh La La was issued in 1973.

With new material, a tour is also reportedly in the works, with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing bass in the spot of the late, great Ronnie Lane.

And while it's been well over 30 years since Stewart, Wood, Jones and McLagan hit the road together as The Faces, I've got a strong hunch that the once rough-and-tumble bunch will be better than ever.

Who knows?

Maybe they'll even influence another wave of up-and-coming rock-n-rollers.

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Reunion now looks less likely according to several sources, including www.rockinsights.com/news.htm

-- Posted by soundin on Fri, Jan 23, 2009, at 7:44 AM

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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.
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