Kenney Jones - drums; Ian McLagan - piano, organ; Rod Stewart - vocals; Ron Wood - guitar, vocals; Tetsu Yamauchi - bass
Everything you ever wanted to believe about rock 'n' roll is true, and here's proof: five of the scrawniest, scraggliest moppets in all the kingdom scraped themselves up off the pub floor, climbed on stage and created magic.
In the wake of calamitous label mismanagement that left one of the most important bands of the mod/psychedelic movement creatively hog-tied and practically bankrupt, Small Faces singer/guitarist Steve Marriott jumped ship to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton (things must have been desperate!), setting the best rhythm section in Britain adrift on a sea of ale without a captain. So prodigious were Marriott's talents that it took two musicians to fill his shoes. Luckily, a couple of guys that would soon be among the most recognizable and popularly adored rock stars in the world found their social calendars surprisingly wide open at the dawn of the '70s.
And so it was, with Ron Wood contributing thick and fuzzy slide guitar and Rod Stewart out front wheezing like the Stax horn section after a carton of unfiltered Pall Malls, that the Small was dropped from their moniker and the tight R&B focus was dropped from their sound in favor of a hard and sloppy brand of country-soul. The result was crude perfection - like the Stones with a glassy-eyed grin instead of a sneer. Sadly, nothing beautiful lasts forever, and the Faces, such as they were, couldn't compete with the rocketing stardom of their jet-setting singer's solo career.
This concert, recorded shortly before their demise, is a good example of what was right and what was wrong with the Faces. After bassist/singer Ronnie Lane's unceremonious exit from the touring version of the band, live sets played out rather like a Rod Stewart solo gig. Those familiar with the near-flawless rock 'n' folk of Stewart's first few solo records will recognize some of his mega-hits and equally brilliant, lesser-known songs (as well as a questionable taste in cover material which would later mar his reputation); but sorely missed is Lane's country heart-ache and distinctly English humor. Woody and the boys hold it together just barely, providing the ramshackle performance and rollicking good time that the punters paid to see. Particularly great are a slow and loose version of Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me" and the classic "Stay with Me," featuring a breakdown that threatens to literally breakdown.
Their reputations as musicians and generally wild and crazy guys guaranteed ample opportunities following their break-up, and the members of the Faces would go on to support the best in the industry, most notably The Rolling Stones (Wood, McLagan) and The Who (Jones). But even when playing with giants, these lads were hard-pressed to match the well-crafted chaos they first made together.