Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

The Faces Long Player (1971)


The Faces had entirely worked out their formula on their second LP – so, without further thought, they just named it ‘LP’ for short. And that formula? Play whatever you want, however you want and for whatever purpose you want. Long Player is essentially ‘punk for bluesheads’: your typical barroom band guaranteed to give you enough pleasure while you sit and sip at your beer, but – for some perverse reason – elevated to the position of superstars.

Oh well. Perverse, maybe, but not accidental. The biggest problem with this record is that it goes for far too long without being completely adequate: there are, like, maybe two or three minor original ideas on the album, and even when they take somebody else’s idea, they hardly manage to improve on it. Need proof? Just put on track number five, a live rendition of Paul McCartney’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. It’s actually not bad at all – apart from the fact that Ronnie Lane sings the first verse and he’s got even less of a singing voice than Ronnie Wood. But no amount of piano heroics courtesy of Mr McLagan and even no amount of wailing by Rod Stewart himself are gonna make me prefer this version to the original, simply because a song like ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ isn’t supposed to be played that way. That is, the song is perfectly suited for an arena-rock atmosphere (and it was probably envisaged that way), but it has to be played tight, compact and improvisation-less, just to let the listener catch hold of all the subtle details of the melody. These guys just sound like they had one too many Martinis. ‘Just about warming up and getting into it right about here’, Rod says at the end, and it seems like the absolute truth – problem is, these guys always sounded like they were ‘just about warming up and getting into it right about here’.

Nevertheless, the sheer raw enthusiasm of several of the tracks on here and the Faces’ instrumental prowess do compensate for the bad, ‘distracted’ sides of the record. Ronnie Wood opens the album on a great note, with a sneering, ragged riff that constitutes the meat of ‘Bad ‘N’ Ruin’, and the band rips into one of the best rockers of their career: Stewart’s screams of ‘MOTHER YOU WON’T RECOGNIZE ME NOW!’ will light the inner fire in your soul and wake the sleeping dragon in your heart, if I might use a couple cliched poetic metaphors. (Actually, I hate cliched poetic metaphors; that’s probably why I’m so keen on using them.) And if that’s not enough, ‘Had Me A Real Good Time’, the album’s heaviest and most uncompromised track, is even better, with Kenny Jones kicking away with a nearly John Bonham-ish force and the band reveling in their braggard, raunchy style for all its worth. I, for one, wish Stewart’s powerhouse vocals were a wee bit higher in the mix (which reminds me of a problem – the glorious word ‘shit’ is too melodious an epithet to describe the album’s production), but then again, maybe it’s only for the better: the vocals blend in with the screeching guitars and boogie pianos to form a single, multi-headed monster of a sound. Those who don’t seek anything but innovation in music will probably be horrified, but those who emphasize sincerity and effectiveness will be delighted more than a wolf in sight of a lamb. (Today’s my day for idiotic metaphors, it seems). And to top it all, Stones’ veteran Bobby Keys adds some delightful sax solos in the ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ vein.

Of course, they almost manage to ruin it by including an eight-minute live version of Big Bill Broonzie’s ‘I Feel So Good’, but there are three factors that redeem it: (a) it’s a generic blues cover, and who can resist a great generic blues cover?; (b) the boys play like drunk schizophrenics, which is great fun; (c) Rod totally delights in his functions, especially when he fools around with the audience, urging it to sing along. Hmm. I actually see that out of the three reasons above, only the last one can qualify as a pro argument. Never mind, let’s move on.

The rest of the album is considerably softer – a couple ballads and a couple countryish/folkish ditties. When it comes to ballads (quite funny, that one), it becomes quite clear, at least, to me, what exactly makes a typical folk ballad superate a typical soul ballad. Namely, Lane’s ‘Tell Everyone’ is monotonous, repetitive, simplistic and only highlighted by a sincere enough Stewart vocal delivery, while the entire band’s ‘Sweet Lady Mary’ is a definite highlight of the record: beautiful interplay between acoustic and electric guitars over the background of a swirling, winterish organ is complemented by the most passionate, tender and loving vocals on the entire record. The song is a perfect ballad for your beloved one – just substitute the ‘Mary’ for whoever you want and whoops, you have your serenade ready. Just don’t forget to grab Ronnie Wood along when you head for your beloved one’s windows, as nobody but the man is able to play these delightful slide fills in the instrumental part.

Ronnie Lane contributes two more forgettable tunes – I’ve never been able to really get into the stupid, brain-pounding ‘On The Beach’, and ‘Richmond’ is only slightly better, with some really impressive steel guitar parts. The steel guitar is also resurrected for the album’s big question mark, an instrumental version of the traditional hymn ‘Jerusalem’ that forms the coda to the album; it sounds like Ronnie Wood recorded it in the studio alone, late at night, and secretly pasted it onto the end of the record so that nobody would guess the fact until it was too late. Don’t try to prove I’m wrong.

On the other hand, I feel like I’m getting a bit too harsh. After all, dem Faces are dem Faces, ‘sall. Dem Faces have to be taken like they have to: with all their flaws and misfires. If you accept the Faces’ flaws and misfires as a lawful part of the whole package, you might even understand why the All-Music Guide gave this album a ‘best-of-genre’ rating. But just one small request of you: before you buy this, buy Sticky Fingers. Please. For me.

March 18, 2013 - Posted by | The Faces Long Player |

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: