Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

The Faces A Nod Is As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse (1972)

31a00900c57fec3f52b38e55ba7a8d8f7e632a91From audiofidility.net

The Faces’ A Nod is As Good As a Wink…to a Blind Horse represent The Faces at their finest moment in the history of their all too brief career. While they went on to produce another fine album with Ooh La La, none of the band’s output captured the heart of the band as stupendously as A Nod…did. This album contains all the promise of an up and coming band with none of the internal conflicts that inevitably find their way through final albums.

The album starts with “Miss Judy’s Farm”, a raucous tune that prepares you for the inherent legitimacy of the blues-funk-rock band that never rose beyond the perfect “Stay With Me” in Billboard status and which plagues the band to this day. It behooves this writer to think of what may have become had The Faces had the proper stars aligned at the time of their existence. Their legion of fans swear that rock and roll suffered an organ loss, which was never transplanted or replaced when the Face’s demise came about and will also attest to the body of work that The Faces left behind and its greatness.

A Nod…’s single, “Stay With Me” is the band’s most recognizable song, one that epitomized the intent of the band as well as carved the path that they would follow. A Nod…, then, would be an excellent choice for remastering, as has been done by Blonstein’s Audio Fidelity label. The 24k+ Gold Compact Disc reissue of Faces’ A Nod is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse (titles!) show off the label’s foray in new audiophile reproduction with its use of gold surfacing that eliminates surface irregularities found on standard aluminum CDs. Add to this, HDCD encoding and excellent mastering, the album takes on a new life not heard before. Fans of DCC will notice familiarities with the packaging.

The album’s opening track, “Miss Judy’s Farm”, immediately reveals the clarity of the disc as you hear in- studio howling and commenting likely by Stewart. The howling is not such a big deal by itself but the fact that you can hear it so clearly lets you know what a ride you’re in for. The stereo effects are superb and provide great depth normally attributable to SACDs. The keyboards are lush and rich, Lane’s bass lows are deep and full-bodied, the drumming felt, and Stewart’s vocals are glorious, forefront as intended. You can hear Wood’s great guitar playing (a talent that we all know that his stint with the Stones stifle), and which is revealed (no other word can explain what is happening here) on this remastering.

“Stay With Me” leaps out of the speakers, “Memphis” is revelatory with the Faces’ stunning rendition of Berry’s classic, the perfect “Too Bad” with its SACD-like reproduction (it has to be heard to be fully enjoyed; every instrument is sound shaped), and “That’s All You Need” with its strolling slide from Wood.

This same skill, care, and technology have been applied to The Doobie Brothers’ Minute by Minute album which yielded the hits “What a Fool Believe” and “Minute by Minute.” The band’s second phase career push absorbed soul with vocals expertly handled by the addition of Michael McDonald several albums back of this one, who also provided much of the written tunes with the rest penned by original band mate, Patrick Simmons. This album revitalized The Doobie Brothers with good reason; the tunes showed a band capable of renewal. Although the shift in sound occurred with Takin’ It To The Streets, it wasn’t until Minute by Minute that they found the comfortable niche. They didn’t abandon their roots entirely although it would be easy to think that happened with Minute by Minute.

The Simmons’ penned song, “Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels”, is a nice little soul number that merged their past rock sound to create a new Doobie hybrid, one that carried for a few years after the release of Minute by Minute. But it was the McDonald tunes that McDonald also sang on that made the grade for the band.

The Audio Fidelity 24k+ Gold remastering process makes this recording buzz. The uses of the various instruments by the band are allowed to expand. From Baxter’s wonderful guitar work, especially let loose in the great sounding “How Do The Fools Survive” to the horns in the same song; from McDonald’s rich voice and keyboard work to Tiran Porter’s bass, Minute by Minute is beautifully reproduced. With the album’s depth in musical style, the Audio fidelity reissue draws out the richness. The jazz/soul tunes such as “Here to Love You”, and “Minute By Minute” are revitalized. The country flavour of the instrumental “Steamer Lane Breakdown” is literally a sound sculpture with the recording’s various instruments (fiddle, guitars, banjo) being coaxed out of the grooves.

Both albums’ artwork and originality have been preserved and a slipcase added to enhance the package thus preserving your investment dollars. Both albums are classics. Both reissues are classically striking.

Quite frankly, with this depth of remastering, who needs SACD? That’s a serious statement but then these are serious reproductions. Let’s hope that there are more in the pipe. If they all sound this good, stereo purists and fans will profit immensely. It is gold, after all.

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March 4, 2013 - Posted by | The Faces A Nod Is As Good As A Wink... |

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