After frontman Steve Marriott left Small Faces in 1969, the remaining three members decided to press on. In a pair of historically great personnel moves, they added guitarist Ron Wood and singer Rod Stewart and renamed themselves Faces. Over the next five years, the reconfigured Faces recorded four albums and evolved into one of the all-time great rock bands.
The efforts of Kenney Jones (drums), Ronnie Lane (bass/vocals), Ian McLagan (keyboards), Stewart and Wood are celebrated with the release of stellar new boxed set “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything (1970-1975). The five-CD set includes newly remastered versions of all four Faces studio albums, plus a disc of rarities. With 64 total tracks clocking in at 4.5 hours, this is the definitive Faces collection.
Each album — “The First Step” (1970), “Long Player” (1971), “A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … to a Blind Horse” (1971), “Ooh La La” (1973) — includes the original tracks and a series of bonus tunes comprised of alternate takes, rehearsals, outtakes and live performances. These enhancements make “You Can Me Dance, Sing or Anything” an essential addition to your collection.
Wood and Stewart settled right into the band and “The First Step” serves notice that Faces were taking their music in exciting new directions. Though the album failed to generate any hit singles, it endeared the band to the masses with their rough-around-the-edges, blue-collar approach. Songs like the Bob Dylan cover “Wicked Messenger,” “Devotion,” “Flying,” Nobody Knows” and the rollicking “Three Button Hand Me Down” are the highlights of that first record.
Faces emerged as a jaw-droppingly good band in 1971 with a pair of near-perfect albums. “Long Player” doesn’t have a bad song on it, with the lads especially impressive on “Bad ‘N’ Ruin,” “Sweet Lady Mary,” “Had Me a Real Good Time” and the Big Bill Broonzy cover “I Feel So Good.” They even deliver a swaggering rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” that (dare I say it?) may well exceed the original.
As good as “Long Player” is, Faces’ true masterpiece came out a few months later. “A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … to a Blind Horse” is an absolute tour de force and contains their one bona fide hit single, “Stay With Me.” The rest of the album is every bit as good with standout cuts like “Miss Judy’s Farm,” “You’re So Rude,” “Debris,” the Chuck Berry cover “Memphis” and “That’s All You Need.”
By the time Faces hit the studio to record “Ooh La La,” Stewart’s solo career had exploded and he had begun to outshine the band. While that ultimately would prove to be the end of Faces, they managed to pull together for one final studio gem. Songs like “Silicone Grown,” “Cindy Incidentally,” “My Fault,” “If I’m on the Late Side,” “Just Another Honky” and the title track have aged incredibly well and are every bit as powerful some 40-plus years later.
The rarities disc has some nice moments but, understandably, lacks the cohesiveness of their studio albums. Highlights include “Pool Hall Richard,” a live cover of The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain” and non-album singles “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything (Even Take the Dog for a Walk, Mend a Fuse, Fold Away the Ironing Board, or any Other Domestic Short Comings)” and “Dishevelment Blues.” (Jeffrey Sisk)