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The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… (2004)

From Allmusic.com

There has never been a better box set than the Faces’ Five Guys Walk into a Bar…. There has never been a box that captures an artist so perfectly, nor has a box set taken greater advantage of unreleased and rare material, to the point where it seems as essential and vital as the released recordings. Simply put, there’s never been a box set as necessary as this, since it tells the band’s entire tale and explains exactly what the fuss is all about. Unfortunately, some explanations are in order, since the Faces never made it big, resigned to cult status in America and Britain alike. Nevertheless, if you love rock & roll with an all-consuming passion, you may consider the Faces the greatest rock & roll band ever. And you’d be right. Other bands were certainly bigger and plenty wielded a stronger influence, but the Faces were something unique, an endearingly ragged quintet that played raw, big-hearted rock & roll as hard as the Rolling Stones, but with a warm, friendly vibe that would have sounded utterly foreign coming from the Stones. At the turn of the ’60s, that warmth was unusual in rock & roll, since most of the big bands were larger than life; even the Kinks, the quaintest and quietest of the titans of the late ’60s, had a theatrical bent that lent them a mystique.

In contrast, the Faces were utterly without mystique. They were unpretentious to a fault, coming across like the lovable lads from the neighborhood who were always out for a good time, whether it was before, during, or after a gig. They were unassuming and mischievous, with their raggedness camouflaging a sweetness that flowed throughout their music; they were charming rogues, so endearing that even the infamously cranky, trendsetting British DJ John Peel had a soft spot a mile wide for them. That raggedness resulted in exhilarating music, but also made the Faces inconsistent on-stage and in the studio. At their peak, nobody could touch them, but even their greatest albums were sloppy, never maintaining their momentum. They would also throw away great songs on non-LP singles, and their live performances — including BBC sessions for Peel — often had a raucous energy not quite captured on their albums. All of these elements taken as a whole add up to a great band, but no single album, not even the first-rate 1999 compilation Good Boys When They’re Asleep, captured each of these elements.

Five Guys Walk into a Bar… does. Produced and sequenced by their keyboardist, Ian McLagan, the set throws all conventional rules of box sets out the window. It’s not assembled in a chronological order. A grand 43 of its 67 tracks are non-LP cuts and rarities, including a whopping 31 previously unreleased tracks. It has all the B-sides never released on CD. Several songs are repeated in alternate live or studio versions. Such a preponderance of rarities would usually mean that a box set is only for the devoted, but that’s not the case here — these rarities are the very reason why Five Guys Walk into a Bar… succeeds in a way none of their original albums do, since they fill in the gaps left behind on their four studio albums. This does mean that it features several Rod Stewart solo cuts that worked their way into the Faces’ repertoire (partially because the band backed him on his solo albums, too), but that was an important part of their history (plus, the BBC version of “You’re My Girl [I Don’t Want to Discuss It]” is blistering hot), and while this showcases Stewart at his best — he never was better than he was in the early ’70s, whether it was fronting the Faces or on his solo records — he never overshadows his mates on this box.

The focus is on the band as a whole, which means that the spotlight is shone on the late, perpetually underappreciated Ronnie Lane numerous times on each of the four discs, and that Ronnie Wood has his turn at the microphone on a wonderful live “Take a Look at the Guy.” McLagan’s song sequencing may appear to have no logic behind it, since it doesn’t group recordings together by either era or scarcity, yet his seemingly haphazard approach makes musical and emotional sense, flowing like a set list yet remarkably maintaining momentum through its four lengthy discs. While it may sound like hyperbole, there’s never a dull moment here, not a bad track among these 67 songs — it’s consistent in a way the Faces never were when they were together. It’s a joyous, addictive listen, too. It sounds like a party, one where everybody’s invited and where the music doesn’t stop playing until the break of dawn. That makes a perfect tribute for a band that never got the respect they were due, and never made the great album they should have made. With Five Guys Walk into a Bar…, the Faces finally have that great album and not just that, they have a box set that’s as infectious and satisfying as any classic rock & roll album and a box set that’s quite possibly the greatest box set ever made. Plus, it’s just one hell of a good time.

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March 5, 2011 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… (2004)

From Amazon

Being a sucker for glossy box sets I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this. However, having now listened to it in its entirity several times I must say I have some reservations.

Firstly however, the packaging is excellent. A well put together, sturdy digipack, smaller than the usual size for box sets, its nice compact size makes for easier storage. The booklet is also well put together, with some interesting and informative essays from Ian Maclaglen and others and some nice photos. You also get a full discography and recording details. All in all this is the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from a good box set. However, it’s when we get into the music that reservations have to be expressed.

Firstly, I must refute the ridiculous claims some people have been making recently that the Faces were actually better than the Stones. The two catalogues don’t bear comparison. Indeed, I would argue that the Faces number of ‘classic’ original songs is actually quite small – ‘Stay With Me,’ ‘Cindy Incidently,’ Y’ou Can Make Me Dance Sing Or Anything’ ‘Had Myself A Real Good Time’ (one of my favourite rockers by anybody!) and that’s about it. They had some other good little songs and some pretty decent covers, but nothing like the classic material the Stones regularly produced during their peak years. Also The Faces weren’t averse to rehashing the same song under a different title – ‘Three Button Hand Me Down’ is surely Rod Stewart’s solo number ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’ also written with Ronnie Wood.

The fidelity on some of the live and rehearsel material on this box set is actually pretty dreadful. I find the rehearsal material recorded in 1969 on a cassette machine actually virtually unlistenable. It could be argued this is what box sets are all about, but it doesn’t make for repeated listening pleasure. The quality of some of the other previously unreleased stuff is also quite dubious. The reason most artists hold back some songs in the first place is usually simply because they are substandard. The great exception here of course is Dylan, whose bootleg box set does contain considerable first rate previously unreleased goodies. But just as the Faces are no Jagger/Richard in the songwriting stakes nor are they Bob Dylan. Their lack of consistent songwriting prowess is indicated by the number of fairly forgettable instrumentals they recorded. We get a number of those here, depite the omission of ‘Pineapple and Monkey’ and ‘Fly In The Ointment’ – if it had an odd title it was usually an instrumental! Having said that there is some worthwhile newly available material. ‘As Long As You Tell Him,’ and ‘Come See Me Baby’ are both good songs, but the cover songs are a real mixture.

The version of Free’s ‘The Stealer’ is excellent as are the two versions of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and the Beach Boys’ ‘Gettin’ Hungry’, whilst the cover of ‘Jealous Guy’ is interesting. However, I can’t say I care for the take on ‘Love In Vain’; while the live ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (another of my favourite songs) is vastly inferior to the studio version on Rod Stewart’s ‘Never A Dull Moment’. Indeed, there is actually a lot of material here that Stewart also recorded as a solo artist – ‘I Know I’m Losing You,’ ‘Cut Across Shorty’ ‘Jodie’, ‘Maggie Mae,’ and ‘If Loving You Is Wrong I Don’t Want To Be Right’ – the latter excellent song recorded by Rod some years later and unlike the others not already in my collection.

Regarding the officially released material we get the best tracks from their first two albums and the whole of ‘Nod’s As Good As A Wink,’ with one glaring exception, and the whole of ‘Ooh La La’ (an originally underrated album) apart from the aformentioned instrumental ‘Fly In The Ointment’. The glaring omission from ‘Nod’ is the ridiculous decision not to include the superb, pulsating version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis’, one of the Faces very best covers. Why this couldn’t have been included instead of one of the THREE versions of ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’ heaven knows. For this ludicrous omission and the lo fi rehearsal material I have to knock a star off. I think this box set would actually have been stronger if it had been limited to three discs. Apart from the awfully recorded rehearsal material, the forgettable instrumentals and the needless repetition, a track like ‘Dishevelement Blues’ despite the great title, is a waste of disc space.

In conclusion, buy if you’re a Faces fanatic, but if you feel you just want the best stuff from this exciting but inconsistent band stick to the compilation ‘Good Boys While They’re Asleep’ – although that doesn’t have ‘Memphis’ on it either!

February 27, 2011 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces: Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… (2004)

From Beatpatrol.wordpress.com

There has never been a better box set than the Faces’ Five Guys Walk into a Bar…. There has never been a box that captures an artist so perfectly, nor has a box set taken greater advantage of unreleased and rare material, to the point where it seems as essential and vital as the released recordings. Simply put, there’s never been a box set as necessary as this, since it tells the band’s entire tale and explains exactly what the fuss is all about. Unfortunately, some explanations are in order, since the Faces never made it big, resigned to cult status in America and Britain alike. Nevertheless, if you love rock & roll with an all-consuming passion, you may consider the Faces the greatest rock & roll band ever. And you’d be right. Other bands were certainly bigger and plenty wielded a stronger influence, but the Faces were something unique, an endearingly ragged quintet that played raw, big-hearted rock & roll as hard as the Rolling Stones, but with a warm, friendly vibe that would have sounded utterly foreign coming from the Stones. At the turn of the ’60s, that warmth was unusual in rock & roll, since most of the big bands were larger than life; even the Kinks, the quaintest and quietest of the titans of the late ’60s, had a theatrical bent that lent them a mystique.

In contrast, the Faces were utterly without mystique. They were unpretentious to a fault, coming across like the lovable lads from the neighborhood who were always out for a good time, whether it was before, during, or after a gig. They were unassuming and mischievous, with their raggedness camouflaging a sweetness that flowed throughout their music; they were charming rogues, so endearing that even the infamously cranky, trendsetting British DJ John Peel had a soft spot a mile wide for them. That raggedness resulted in exhilarating music, but also made the Faces inconsistent on-stage and in the studio. At their peak, nobody could touch them, but even their greatest albums were sloppy, never maintaining their momentum. They would also throw away great songs on non-LP singles, and their live performances — including BBC sessions for Peel — often had a raucous energy not quite captured on their albums. All of these elements taken as a whole add up to a great band, but no single album, not even the first-rate 1999 compilation Good Boys When They’re Asleep, captured each of these elements.

Five Guys Walk into a Bar… does. Produced and sequenced by their keyboardist, Ian McLagan, the set throws all conventional rules of box sets out the window. It’s not assembled in a chronological order. A grand 43 of its 67 tracks are non-LP cuts and rarities, including a whopping 31 previously unreleased tracks. It has all the B-sides never released on CD. Several songs are repeated in alternate live or studio versions. Such a preponderance of rarities would usually mean that a box set is only for the devoted, but that’s not the case here — these rarities are the very reason why Five Guys Walk into a Bar… succeeds in a way none of their original albums do, since they fill in the gaps left behind on their four studio albums. This does mean that it features several Rod Stewart solo cuts that worked their way into the Faces’ repertoire (partially because the band backed him on his solo albums, too), but that was an important part of their history (plus, the BBC version of “You’re My Girl [I Don’t Want to Discuss It]” is blistering hot), and while this showcases Stewart at his best — he never was better than he was in the early ’70s, whether it was fronting the Faces or on his solo records — he never overshadows his mates on this box.

The focus is on the band as a whole, which means that the spotlight is shone on the late, perpetually underappreciated Ronnie Lane numerous times on each of the four discs, and that Ronnie Wood has his turn at the microphone on a wonderful live “Take a Look at the Guy.” McLagan’s song sequencing may appear to have no logic behind it, since it doesn’t group recordings together by either era or scarcity, yet his seemingly haphazard approach makes musical and emotional sense, flowing like a set list yet remarkably maintaining momentum through its four lengthy discs. While it may sound like hyperbole, there’s never a dull moment here, not a bad track among these 67 songs — it’s consistent in a way the Faces never were when they were together. It’s a joyous, addictive listen, too. It sounds like a party, one where everybody’s invited and where the music doesn’t stop playing until the break of dawn. That makes a perfect tribute for a band that never got the respect they were due, and never made the great album they should have made. With Five Guys Walk Into a Bar…, the Faces finally have that great album and not just that, they have a box set that’s as infectious and satisfying as any classic rock & roll album and a box set that’s quite possibly the greatest box set ever made. Plus, it’s just one hell of a good time.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces: Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… (2004)

From Amazon

Rhino Records have an impressive track record as far as compilations and box sets go, and this lavish five-hour Faces box is as good as it gets. Said the reviewer and gave it four stars out of five.

Yes, well, there is no four and a half, is there? And for a “semi-serious” Faces fan like me, five hours of Faces is a little bit too much…most of this music is just great, but there is a little bit of second-rate stuff which only the true diehards will appreciate, and three discs would have been perfect for someone like me.

But if you are a diehard Faces fan, go for this box set right away. It perfectly sums up what the Faces were about, and it genuine adds to their legacy by including no fewer than 31 previously unreleased recordings and another 12 non-LP tracks.
The Faces were a rowdy bunch, they played raw, ragged rock n’ roll (and the occational countryish ballad), and their looseness sometimes spilled over and turned into sloppiness, but when they were at the top of their game (as they are on the vast majority of these 67 songs) they could go toe to toe with anybody…the Kinks, the Stones, the Beatles, you name ’em.

The 60-page booklet is thoroughly illustrated and includes recording information, essays, and comments from box set producer and Faces keyboardist Ian MacLagan. There are twenty live tracks here (concert recordings or “live-in-the-studio” BBC sides), including covers of songs by John Lennon (“Jealous Guy”), Paul McCartney (“Maybe I’m Amazed”), Hendrix (“Angel”), Robert Johnson (a slightly odd “Love In Vain”), and Big Bill Broonzy (a tough rendition of the classic blues “I Feel So Good”).
Rod Stewart was never better than in the early 70s, but this is not just “The Rod Stewart Show”…it’s a group effort, and bassist Ronnie Lane contributes some of the most beautiful songs.

The Faces’ best and best-known songs are all here, sitting next to lesser-known (and sometimes completely unknown) recordings like “Pool Hall Richard”, Ron Wood’s “Take A Look At The Guy”, a live “I Can Feel The Fire”, and the wonderful outtake “Wyndlesham Bay (Jodie)”. And those unknown sides are often quite as good.
An alternate “Cindy Incidentally” is at least as brilliant as the LP version, and singles like “As Long As You Tell Him” and “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything” turn out to be some of the Faces’ best songs. It’s a wonder why they never turned up on any of their LPs.
There’s a bit of material from Rod Stewart’s solo career here as well, like the live versions of “Cut Across Shorty” and “Maggie May”, but they fit in seamlessly with the rest of the material.

A little bit too much for more casual Faces fans, but a real find for serious ones, “Five Guys Walk Into A Bar” is one of the most impressive and certainly most thorough box sets of the decade.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into A Bar (2004)

From Baltimore City Paper

. . . and walk out four years later with engorged livers, a lone major hit (“Stay With Me”), also-ran album sales, and a collective reputation soon overshadowed by Rod Stewart’s solo success and Ron Wood’s subsequent stint in the Rolling Stones. And despite invocations by cultists over the years (paging Chris Robinson), the real punch line is that it took bespectacled hipster Wes Anderson ending Rushmore with the band’s 1973 folk-pop charmer “Ooh La La” to raise the Faces from the dead for a new generation. If their rep is gonna receive full resurrection, it’s up to this would-be enshrinement, compiled by keyboardist Ian McLagan, to do it.

It just might, and who’s to say they don’t deserve it. The lore here is revealing: McLagan, drummer Kenney Jones, and bassist/singer Ronnie Lane were what remained of the undersung British pop act the Small Faces; Wood and Stewart were refugees from Jeff Beck’s proto-Zep aggro-blues band. These castoffs combined forces and strengths to create music that drew from blues and R&B’s grit, thump, and slop, but didn’t neglect pop’s pleasing melodies and songcraft—a recipe for millions served.

If the business model didn’t exactly follow through, Five Guys does prove that they made a lot of great music and, to paraphrase one of their more iconic numbers, had them a real good time. Famed for swigging and shagging, the Faces brought that dirty-hotel-room vibe onstage and into the studio and made it a trademark: “Stay With Me” is so debauched you can smell it, and the titanic riff still sounds like it was played on a set of strings the size of a cattle gate; on raspy barroom punch-out “Pool Hall Richard” Stewart reveals that he was another one of the 700 or so people who invented rap, one barked note at a time. But McLagan’s jumbled running order, modeled on set-list thinking, also reveals the band’s artistic ambition (“Flying” and the stomping Anglo-Saxon country blues “Around the Plynth” venture into serious hard-rock territory and return unscathed), commercial wiles (the band’s polarizing disco move “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything”), and near-endless supplies of effortless charm (Stewart doing his best Sam Cooke on “Come See Me Baby [The Cheater],” Lane’s acoustic slide lullaby “Richmond”).

This being a career-capping box set, unreleased stuff abounds—outtakes, live recordings, early rehearsal tapes, B-sides, BBC sessions. Some, like a torrid drag through the old soul smoker “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Wanna Be Right)”, go a long way toward making them seem like forgotten avatars. Others, such as a literally staggering version of “I Wish It Would Rain” and the live “I Can Feel the Fire,” prove that the Faces were mere stutter-steps away from the kind of knob-stupid bar band that never would have made it out of the corner pub in any era. But that’s perhaps part of the reason that the Faces were never bigger, and one of the more endearing things about Five Guys. None of them was such a musical genius that he could really top what he did here hereafter, and no one is more appealing than when he’s playing over his head.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… (2004)

From BBC Music

You young ‘uns out there may be interested to know that, once upon a time, Rod Stewart wasn’t just a crooning mum’s favourite with a penchant for leggy blondes. He was a proper lead singer in a proper band, with a penchant for leggy blondes. What’s more it wasn’t even his band. Following the acrimonious departure of Steve Marriott from the Small Faces, Ronnie Lane took the helm. Added to the trio of Lane, Kenney Jones and Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan were guitarist Ronnie Wood and Rod the Mod. Anyone expecting that dropping the ‘Small’ from the name meant that they were growing up was sadly deluded. In the short space of 3 years they redefined the word ‘loose’. These five guys walked into a bar and never came out.

Compiled by McLagan, Five Guys…is, finally, the box set that the band deserves. It’s an alternative picture of a band whose studio albums often fell short of their true worth. Instead it draws on a wealth of BBC live sessions, outtakes and studio rehearsals. The live stuff is exactly as you’d expect it to be – boozy and sloppy but with its heart definitely in the right place. Rough diamonds unearthed include a storming version of McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed”. The outtakes and rehearsals don’t fare so well. Playing to a crowd these über-lads always put on a show, but locked in with themselves you got the feeling that they were filling time until that bar opened again.

However there’s always a bedrock of talent and craftsmanship at the root of these shambolic romps. Lane was a fine writer and Rod’s interpretations were definitive. Ronnie Wood seemed to know that he’d be in the Stones one day: their version of “Love In Vain” is note-perfect compared to Keef’s (which is more than can be said for their mauling of Free’s “The Stealer”). They could do everything from ballads to rockers and the cherrypicking is perfect. Of course, someone had to call closing time, and with Lane jumping ship and Rod’s solo career becoming as big as his ego, the fun dissipated within a year.

Their one live album, Overtures and Beginners, featuring new bass player Tetsu, was rightly panned (though the lovely version of the Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain” comes from that set), but this box more than makes up for the missed opportunity thirty years ago. To David Fricke, editor of Rolling Stone, they were: ‘the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band that ever stumbled and strummed their way across the world’. Well, not quite, but had they sobered up they may have been.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into A Bar (2004)

imagesCAHCUW3AFrom Musictap.net

A million and one superlatives come to mind when talking about one of the most overlooked bands in rockdom, The Faces. Often called the poor man’s Rolling Stones, The Faces delivered much, much more than that moniker would have you believe. Unfortunately, Rod Stewart’s career led to the far too early demise of this band that few knew outside of “Stay With Me”, their one high-charting single, and then they were mentioned as Rod Stewart and Faces. Shame! As a piece of trivia for you, Wood’s solo album, I’ve Got My Own Album to Do, was a slap at Stewart’s increasingly departing attitude as his own solo career was taking off. It’s noted that in the midst of recording and when they could get Rod in the studio, he would remark that “I’ve got my own album to do.”

The Faces grew out of The Small Faces and only by connection with the three remaining members, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones, and Ian McLagan. The rest of this band was rounded out by the extraordinary talents of vocalist Rod Stewart and one of the world’s finest guitarist in Ronnie Wood (who was born to be a Stone but, thankfully, was a Face beforehand.) Re-born in 1969, and still named Small Faces due to panicky label execs, Faces immediately embodied the heart and soul of pure-bred rock and roll. We, of course, can spend the rest of the day talking about the band that was Faces and mourn their deservedly mournful, departure. But rather, it’s better to introduce you to the band that was; the band that was rock n roll; the band that yielded extraordinary performers; and the band that was..The Faces.

Ian McLagan, the organ and piano parts of the band, worked on and released this definitive 4CD document called Five Guys Walk Into a Bar… Strange title, that! But not so strange for any who followed the band. It’s no secret that the guys drank heavily and partied hardy. So, the title opens the set and sets the stage for the treasures found within. There are rehearsals takes, alternate mixes, live cuts, a wealth of previously unissued recordings, and intimate recording banter between the mates as heard on “Jealous Guy” (and also has the words written so that you can follow along.) This set is done so well that it should be looked at on how to do a great retrospective Box Set. McLagan’s attention to detail is unmatched and adds to the allure of the set.

There are so many gems on this collection that you’ll find yourself lost in time; lost in the warmth of true rocknroll while listening to the beautiful, and unreleased, “Come See Me Baby (The Cheater)”; lost in the incredible rawness of “Tonight’s Number” with it’s soulful sax, hard-edged guitar, and the purity of the structured jam. You’ll revel in a slower alternate mix of “Cindy Incidentally” as well as the original issue of the song. You’ll be treated to a live version of “Stay With Me” as well as a live cut of McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed”. There’s two live versions of “Miss Judy’s Farm” and a live cut of Wood’s fine slide guitar song, “Around the Plynth.” Of course, all of these live cuts are accompanied by their original cuts elsewhere on the set as the set refuses to follow a chronology. But Five Guys Walk Into a Bar… is not hurt by this chronological departure but rather, ends up a complete celebration of the band without bringing notice to the short timeframe of the band. It’s part of what makes this collection so spectacular.

There are several live Faces versions of Rod Stewart hits like “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, “Gasoline Alley”, and “Maggie May” included on this set as well as a live cut of “I Can Feel The Fire” that eventually ended up being re-recorded for a Wood solo album.

You’ll enjoy the band’s unissued cover of “If Loving You is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)”, an outtake from the Ooh La La sessions. If you’re a Faces fan, there isn’t a song on this massive repository of 67 magical cuts that encompass over 5 hours of material that you’ll be displeased with. This batch of songs have been remastered to bring a new level of quality to the sound. You’ll not be disappointed with what you hear in most cuts. The box is presented in a library book style that houses discs in an interesting overlap, two to the inside front cover and two to the back. Sandwiched between all that audio goodness is a 62 page bound book complete with photos of the band, pictures of singles and album labels and covers, and detailed listings of the songs in several places.

Faces became a band of many hats as they strolled, no – stomped – through their years. Born in 1969 and ended in 1975 as Wood became a Stone, Lane quit amid furor, Jones replaced Keith Moon in The Who, McLagan made solos, working with other artists extensively, and Stewart became something else. But their legacy, as found on this set, is immutable, the concrete of the foundation of rock. The world has clear cut representatives and the least known but most complete representation emanates from the talents of the 5 boys, 6 if you allow for Tetsu Yamauchi, who took over for Lane. Texturally, there isn’t a band that rocked as good as these guys. Stewart’s cigarette-worn bluesy voice, McLagan’s sassy command of his keys, Jones’ excellent drumming, Wood’s grasp of what rock guitar meant, and Lane’s direction and bass became the legendary sound of rock, perhaps more than the Stones. Blasphemy? You’ll need to hear a set like this before you condemn me to be hung on Rock’s altar. And you may be surprised at what you conclude with.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into A Bar (2004)

imagesCAHCUW3AFrom Creemmagazine.com

On Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan’s Web site, there are pictures of the English breakfast that obsessed me when I was there—that weird pink bacon, the bangers, the fried-up tinned tomatoes (tomartoes?). Its unhealthiness is what makes it decadent (particularly with a pint of Guinness). But it also has a homey character to it, like something your grandmother would make you. And the combination is so wonderful that I can’t understand how I didn’t know about it before.

That seems to be a fitting metaphor for the Faces—the decadence, the tastiness, and the comfortable familiarity that comes from good friends. That a band this amazing has been relegated to a rock ‘n’ roll footnote is criminal. But now the good folks at Rhino have issued this four-CD package filled with songs from the Faces four studio albums plus live tracks, BBC sessions, and previously unheard rehearsal recordings.

Now, this review isn’t for you geezers out there. If you had Long Player on 8-track, or if you rolled doobies on your copy of A Nod Is As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse back when it first came out, well, just go out and buy the damn thing already. You know how good it is, you know you want it, and the reality is that with the plush packaging and the amazing unreleased tracks, it’s every bit as good as you’d imagine.

No, this review is for those of us who grew up in the mediocre post-disco Rod Stewart era. It’s for those who know Ron Wood only as a Rolling Stone during that band’s least distinguished era. It’s for those who think of Kenny Jones as the drummer on the Who’s crappiest records; or Ronnie Lane as some sick guy who they had those benefit shows for. Ian Mc-who-gan?

See, the thing is, the Faces have always been underrated and overlooked, and hopefully Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… will change all that.

I’ll cop to the fact that I’m only a recent Faces fan, and my involvement with CREEM is largely to blame for that. Historically, the band was one of the favorites at America’s Only (and in CREEM’s hometown of Detroit). That love was reflected in the coverage the band was given in the magazine’s pages.

In the liner notes, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass expresses the same sentiment, writing about picking up a cassette of Oh La La on his band’s first U.S. tour. “The feeling I got on the first listen was so exciting,” he wrote, “how could I have missed this one among the Stones, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and the other great records I’d discovered at a younger age?”

If Led Zeppelin represented the darker forces of Satan, the Faces were more of a Pan-like joie de vivre. Rather than Viking themes, the Faces songs covered themes like the joys of drink and friendship, of music and, ahem, feminine companionship.

McLagan assembled the songs thematically, not chronologically. “I did arrange them that way at first, but listening to the songs in the order we recorded them was about as interesting as reading a phone book,” he wrote. Instead, they were assembled over a pint of “black madness,” and the song order really does create a celebratory atmosphere.

There are straight-ahead rockers like “Bad ‘N’ Ruin” (which was used to great effect on The Sopranos recently) and the sick “That’s All You Need.” There are covers of blues chestnuts Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil” or Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain.” There are R&B numbers like “I Wish It Would Rain” or “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right).” And a there’s a sweet, wistful folksy side that is best reflected in Ronnie Lane’s compositions like “Oh La La” and “Richmond.”

The BBC sessions and live tracks are the best part of the set, because that’s where the band showed its puissance. On songs like “Maggie May” and “Gasoline Alley”—both solo hits for Rod—it’s easy to hear the conviviality that the Faces brought to the stage. Rod may have been more successful on his own, but it sure sounds like he was having more fun with the rest of the guys.

The set ends with a one-two punch that perfectly illustrates the band’s sense of humor and seriousness. “Dishevelment Blues,” which was essentially a piss take track recorded for an NME flexidisc is followed by “Stay With Me,” the band’s biggest hit and one of the most powerfully distilled blasts of how badass an outfit the Faces were.

It’ll be a real shock if this isn’t the most important box set to come out this year. And it is certainly great fun (particularly if you listen to it with some cognac or maybe a pint of the black madness). This one’s for you, guys—cheers!

May 15, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into A Bar (2004)

imagesCAHCUW3AFrom Answers.com

There has never been a better box set than the Faces’ Five Guys Walk into a Bar…. There has never been a box that captures an artist so perfectly, nor has a box set taken greater advantage of unreleased and rare material, to the point where it seems as essential and vital as the released recordings. Simply put, there’s never been a box set as necessary as this, since it tells the band’s entire tale and explains exactly what the fuss is all about. Unfortunately, some explanations are in order, since the Faces never made it big, resigned to cult status in America and Britain alike. Nevertheless, if you love rock & roll with an all-consuming passion, you may consider the Faces the greatest rock & roll band ever. And you’d be right. Other bands were certainly bigger and plenty wielded a stronger influence, but the Faces were something unique, an endearingly ragged quintet that played raw, big-hearted rock & roll as hard as the Rolling Stones, but with a warm, friendly vibe that would have sounded utterly foreign coming from the Stones. At the turn of the ’60s, that warmth was unusual in rock & roll, since most of the big bands were larger than life; even the Kinks, the quaintest and quietest of the titans of the late ’60s, had a theatrical bent that lent them a mystique.

In contrast, the Faces were utterly without mystique. They were unpretentious to a fault, coming across like the lovable lads from the neighborhood who were always out for a good time, whether it was before, during, or after a gig. They were unassuming and mischievous, with their raggedness camouflaging a sweetness that flowed throughout their music; they were charming rogues, so endearing that even the infamously cranky, trendsetting British DJ John Peel had a soft spot a mile wide for them. That raggedness resulted in exhilarating music, but also made the Faces inconsistent on-stage and in the studio. At their peak, nobody could touch them, but even their greatest albums were sloppy, never maintaining their momentum. They would also throw away great songs on non-LP singles, and their live performances — including BBC sessions for Peel — often had a raucous energy not quite captured on their albums. All of these elements taken as a whole add up to a great band, but no single album, not even the first-rate 1999 compilation Good Boys When They’re Asleep, captured each of these elements.

Five Guys Walk into a Bar… does. Produced and sequenced by their keyboardist, Ian McLagan, the set throws all conventional rules of box sets out the window. It’s not assembled in a chronological order. A grand 43 of its 67 tracks are non-LP cuts and rarities, including a whopping 31 previously unreleased tracks. It has all the B-sides never released on CD. Several songs are repeated in alternate live or studio versions. Such a preponderance of rarities would usually mean that a box set is only for the devoted, but that’s not the case here — these rarities are the very reason why Five Guys Walk into a Bar… succeeds in a way none of their original albums do, since they fill in the gaps left behind on their four studio albums. This does mean that it features several Rod Stewart solo cuts that worked their way into the Faces’ repertoire (partially because the band backed him on his solo albums, too), but that was an important part of their history (plus, the BBC version of “You’re My Girl [I Don’t Want to Discuss It]” is blistering hot), and while this showcases Stewart at his best — he never was better than he was in the early ’70s, whether it was fronting the Faces or on his solo records — he never overshadows his mates on this box.

The focus is on the band as a whole, which means that the spotlight is shone on the late, perpetually underappreciated Ronnie Lane numerous times on each of the four discs, and that Ronnie Wood has his turn at the microphone on a wonderful live “Take a Look at the Guy.” McLagan’s song sequencing may appear to have no logic behind it, since it doesn’t group recordings together by either era or scarcity, yet his seemingly haphazard approach makes musical and emotional sense, flowing like a set list yet remarkably maintaining momentum through its four lengthy discs. While it may sound like hyperbole, there’s never a dull moment here, not a bad track among these 67 songs — it’s consistent in a way the Faces never were when they were together. It’s a joyous, addictive listen, too. It sounds like a party, one where everybody’s invited and where the music doesn’t stop playing until the break of dawn. That makes a perfect tribute for a band that never got the respect they were due, and never made the great album they should have made. With Five Guys Walk into a Bar…, the Faces finally have that great album and not just that, they have a box set that’s as infectious and satisfying as any classic rock & roll album and a box set that’s quite possibly the greatest box set ever made. Plus, it’s just one hell of a good time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

CD 1

Track Title Composers Performers Time
Flying (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (4:18)
On the Beach Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (4:19)
Too Bad (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (3:15)
If I’m Late on the Side Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane Faces (2:39)
Debris Ronnie Lane Faces (4:36)
Jealous Guy [#][Outtake] John Lennon Faces (6:44)
Evil [Rehearsal][#] Willie Dixon Faces (6:38)
As Long as You Tell Him Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (4:20)
Maggie May [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Martin Quittenton Faces (5:32)
Cindy Incidentally [Alternate Mix][#][Outtake] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (2:46)
Maybe I’m Amazed [Live][#] Paul McCartney Faces (6:12)
Insurance [Outtake] Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (4:04)
I Came Looking for You [Rehearsal][#] Ronnie Lane Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane (3:16)
Last Orders Please Ronnie Lane Faces (2:36)
Wyndlesham Bay (Jodie) [#][Outtake] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (3:08)
I Can Feel the Fire [Live][#] Ron Wood Faces (5:38)
Tonight’s Number Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:14)
Come See My Baby (The Cheater) [#][Outtake] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (4:19)

CD 2

Track Title Composers Performers Time
Pool Hall Richard (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (4:25)
You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want to Discuss It) [Live][#] Dick Cooper, Ernie Shelby, Beth Beatty Faces (5:21)
Glad and Sorry (Lyrics) Ronnie Lane Faces (3:07)
Shake, Shudder, Shiver [Rehearsal][#] Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:39)
Miss Judy’s Farm [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (4:38)
Richmond Ronnie Lane Faces (3:03)
That’s All You Need (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (5:07)
Rear Wheel Skid Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones Faces (4:45)
Maybe I’m Amazed [Version] Paul McCartney Faces (3:39)
(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right #] Homer Banks, Carl Hampton Faces (4:54)
Take a Look at the Guy [Live][#] Ron Wood Faces (4:53)
Flags and Banners (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane Faces (2:02)
Bad ‘N’ Ruin [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan Faces (5:25)
Around the Plynth (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (5:55)
Sweet Lady Mary (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (5:51)
Had Me a Real Good Time (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (5:53)
Cut Across Shorty [Live][#] Wayne Walker, Marijohn Wilkin Faces (6:25)

CD 3

Track Title Composers Performers Time
You’re So Rude (Lyrics) Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:43)
(I Know) I’m Losing You [Live][#] Cornelius Grant, Eddie Holland, Norman Whitfield Faces (7:07)
Love Lives Here (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:06)
I’d Rather Go Blind [Live][#] Bill Foster, Ellington Jordan Faces (6:03)
Hi-Heel Sneakers/Everybody Needs Somebody to Love [#] Solomon Burke, Bert Berns, Jerry Wexler, Robert Higginbotham Faces (5:08)
Gettin’ Hungry [#] Brian Wilson, Mike Love Faces (5:12)
Silicone Grown (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (3:08)
Oh Lord I’m Browned Off Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones Faces (3:50)
Just Another Hunky Ronnie Lane Faces (3:34)
Open to Ideas Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (3:59)
Skewiff (Mind the Fuse) Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones Faces (5:16)
Too Bad [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (5:53)
Rock Me [#] Ian McLagan Faces (4:41)
Angel [Live][#] Jimi Hendrix Faces (4:16)
Stay With Me [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (5:50)
Ooh la La (Lyrics) Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:31)

CD 4

Track Title Composers Performers Time
The Stealer [Live][#] Paul Rodgers, Andy Fraser, Paul Kossoff Faces (3:17)
Around the Plynth/Gasoline Alley [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (7:34)
You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything (Even Take the Dog for a Walk, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Tetsu Yamauchi, Kenney Jones Faces (4:31)
I Wish It Would Rain [Live] Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield, Roger Penzabene Faces (4:45)
Miss Judy’s Farm [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (4:00)
Love in Vain [Live][#] Robert Johnson Faces (8:22)
My Fault [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (3:23)
I Feel So Good [Rehearsal][#] Big Bill Broonzy Faces (6:27)
Miss Judy’s Farm (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (3:41)
Three Button Hand Me Down (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan Faces (5:46)
Cindy Incidentally (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (2:39)
Borstal Boys (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan Faces (2:54)
Flying [Live][#] Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane Faces (3:58)
Bad ‘N’ Ruin (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan Faces (5:25)
Dishevelment Blues Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones Faces (4:58)
Stay With Me (Lyrics) Rod Stewart, Ron Wood Faces (4:40)

May 14, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment

The Faces – Five Guys Walk Into A Bar (2004)

imagesCAHCUW3AFrom IanMcLagan.com

This boxed set has had more false starts than a good day at the Olympics, but I can happily say that it really does look as though it will be with us very soon. I must add that since I spoke to Ian McLagan around four years ago this four CD set has changed beyond all recognition. Originally it was decided to release the band’s entire studio output plus some previously unreleased tracks. What we have now spread across four discs is a fair smattering of the previously released and thirty-two tracks that have never seen the light of day before…in other words a real treat for Faces fans. For anyone who has either never heard the Faces or newcomers to the band, then perhaps the recent compilation Good Boys…When They’re Asleep would be a better place to start. For the hardened Faces fan, I am afraid you will have no choice other than to go out and purchase this stunning boxed set immediately. As you may or may not be aware, I am a huge fan of the Faces. Having been lucky enough to see the band in their heyday, I can fully attest that the live tracks on this set finally do the band justice. The previously available live album Overtures And Beginners was an unsatisfactory example of the Faces in the live arena. In the live tracks presented across the four discs of this set, that album is consigned to history and the bands honour is restored and justice is done.

Disc One opens with the track Flying from the bands First Step album. This track whilst being a bit ragged has always been a favourite of mine, and its position as set opener is fully justified in my completely biased opinion. The live tracks on this disc will be the real draw with an excellent version of Maggie May recorded at the BBC. I am sure many will agree that the live version of Ronnie Wood’s I Can Feel The Fire is a showstopper with some excellent soloing from Woody and general ensemble playing from the band. For those who have been listening to Rod’s latest albums of standards, then the rehearsal takes of I came Looking For You and Evil will provide the other side of the coin. Sure Rod can croon with the best of them but personally listening to him here in a dark, dank, sweaty rehearsal room is a complete revelation. You can see why he was so revered as a rock vocalist with the Faces and of course prior to that with the Jeff Beck Group in America. It is for tracks like this that boxed sets were surely made. Other interesting tracks are the alternative mix of Cindy Incidentally, which offers little to an already classic performance found on the Ooh La La album. One of the band’s recorded highlights, Debris, is a wonderful Ronnie Lane song which originally appeared on the
B-side of Stay With Me. Remember that most of the guys in the Faces, including Rod, saw Ronnie Lane as the heart and soul of the group. When placed next to the more raucous material of the Faces, Debris stands out like a jewel in the crown and a wonderful contrast to the bawdy image the band tended to cultivate and revel in.

Disc Two starts in fine style with Pool Hall Richard, which was one of the final stand-alone singles from the band. Another track from the BBC archive, You’re My Girl, is an excellent performance which prompts me to ask that someone reconsider compiling all the Faces’ BBC performances. I would be first in the queue for that album. Other BBC tracks are Miss Judy’s Farm, Bad ‘n’ Ruin and a full tilt version of Cut Across Shorty. Moving on we have Glad And Sorry and another wonderful Ronnie Lane song in Richmond, which again shows the other side of the Faces with some tasteful, slide work from Ron Wood. Another track of interest is the Faces’ version of (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right, which of course Rod would cover on his 1977 album Footloose And Fancy Free. I’m interested if the Faces had recorded one final album with Rod, what else may have appeared that perhaps Rod earmarked for his solo career. It’s an interesting thought, don’t you think?

Disc Three begins with the Nod’s As Good As A Wink period, You’re So Rude. The number of previously unreleased tracks on this disc is pretty high with nine in total, some of which are from the BBC including wonderful versions of Angel and Stay With Me. One of my favourite Faces’ tracks is the Memphis feel of Skewiff (Mend The Fuse) – still gets me every time I play it, and to think this instrumental gem was merely a throw away on the B-side of Cindy Incidentally. This disc finishes off in fine style with the Ronnie Lane co-write, Ooh La La, that was used recently by Vodafone as part of their advertising campaign.

Disc Four and we’re into the home run now. Anyone who says the Faces weren’t a bona fide rock band will have to eat their words when they hear the opening track, an excellent cover of the Free song, The Stealer. This song firmly states the case that the Faces could cut it with the big boys like Free and Led Zeppelin. To be fair, the big names of the era such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Free certainly saw the Faces as contemporaries. More BBC tracks abound on this disc with a medley of Around The Plynth, Gasoline Alley, Flying, My Fault, Miss Judy’s Farm and an outstanding version of Robert Johnson’s Love In Vain. The disc also includes another of my Faces favourites in Three Button Hand Me Down, which has that good time feel that Faces produced oh so easily. Making up the numbers on this final disc are some of the band’s best single releases in Cindy Incidentally, the wonderful final single of You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything; and the whole box finishes appropriately enough with Stay With Me. I would wager that this boxed set will certainly stay with you for a long time. I have had this set on my CD player permanently since I received it from the record company.

In closing, it has to be said that the record company has at long last done the boys proud. This set is beautifully sequenced to get the very best out of a band that were in a class of their own. It has also been rumoured that the final obstacle to a Faces’ reunion, Rod Stewart, is rather keen to do the honest thing and get back together with Woody, Mac and Kenney for perhaps a couple of gigs. Of course the tricky thing is who would replace the much-lamented Ronnie Lane? God Bless him, Tetsu did his very best. I have many great memories of the band with Tetsu as a member; but whoever joins the band, should they decide to get together, certainly has big shoes to fill. Perhaps latter day Small Faces’ bassist Rick Wills could do the job? Having said that, I for one would certainly want to catch the band even if it was the four core members plus others for one last time…we will see but here’s hoping hey? In the meantime, I urge you to go out and purchase this boxed set at your earliest convenience as it is one of the most anticipated archive releases of the last few years and strengthens the opinion that they were one of the best bands this country ever produced. Five guys walk into a bar… is everything you would hope a Faces boxed set to be. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Highly Recommended? You bet it is, even if I am biased.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | The Faces Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... | | Leave a comment