At the start of 1970, one of Britain’s most promising new acts was The Faces – formed by three ex-members of The Small Faces together with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, previously from The Jeff Beck Group.
When Rod hooked up with the remnants of The Small Faces in 1969 by hanging around their rehearsal rooms with similarly unemployed pal Ron Wood, he was not universally welcomed. Having been ditched by Steve Marriott, en route to supergroup Humble Pie, the three remaining Small Faces were not keen to be anyone else’s backing band.
Yet overwhelming musical compatibility kept such worries in the background. More than any other British rock band at the time – more even than The Rolling Stones – The Faces embodied the swaggering, satin-lapelled spirit of the early 70s.
Five guys who sauntered onto stages as if into their local boozer, Mac and Kenney and Rod and the two Ronnies had themselves a really good time all of the time.
Notorious for their hard-partying, boozy tours and ragged concerts, The Faces lived the rock & roll lifestyle to the extreme. These rowdy London lads were all-star mates on a bender.
They were the perfect post-mod gang of good-time Charlies, deeply steeped in American soul but also in English folk-rock. America loved them and kept them slogging round the Holiday Inns of the Midwest for months on end.
Although the group was to some extent overshadowed by the runaway success of vocalist Rod Stewart (all bog-brush barnet and hooter pointed skywards), the Faces enjoyed immense popularity as a live act, as evidenced by the Top 10 position of their first hit, Stay With Me.
The band only made four albums, and only one of them – A Nod Is As Good As A Wink. . . To A Blind Horse (1971) – can be said to stand up as a platter of consistent quality.
Ultimately, they slipped from enjoyable looseness to undisciplined laxness and after a tour in 1974, the band called it quits.
Wood joined The Rolling Stones, drummer Kenney Jones eventually became part of The Who, and keyboardist Ian McLagan became a sought-after supporting musician.
After being banned from all Holiday Inn hotels in the USA, The Faces would book in as Fleetwood Mac.
Ronnie ‘Plonk’ Lane