I consider myself a Faces fan, and my Faces collection includes the four original studio cds ("First Step," "Long Player," "A Nod...," and "Ooh La La"), the live "Coast to Coast" (on album...please somebody release this on cd in the US), and an obscure compilation (two long-since broken cassettes, "The Best of the Faces"). I passed on the recent "Good Boys When They're Asleep" compilation as it contained only one track with which I was unfamiliar. I frequented Ian McLagen's excellent macspages website where I learned that a box-set was in the works. And I waited... My patience has been amply rewarded. "Five Guys Walk Into a Bar..." is a happy, joyous, and invigorating celebration of the Faces. This 67-song compilation contains 24 tracks from the four original studio albums, 12 previously-released tracks not available on the four studio records, and 31 previously-unreleased gems. The 24 album-tracks serve as a great sampler for these albums - raucous, heart-felt, always sincere. The 12 previously-released "non-album" tracks include mainly non-album singles and B-sides (and one cut from Wood/Lane's "Mahoney's Last Stand") - it is great to have this material "under one roof." The 31 previously-unreleased tracks include live concert material (19 tracks), live rehearsals (four tracks), five cuts from the "Ooh La La" sessions, and three tracks from the Faces' last recording session. The live material (concert and rehearsal) includes Faces' classics and some covers, and in general are of very good sound quality - most of these tracks are taken from BBC recordings (only the live "Too Bad" suffers from poor sound). The outtakes from the Ooh La La sessions are great - in fact, Jealous Guy is perhaps my favorite track of the entire box set.
The packaging is top-notch. Great reading material, some of it penned by Face Ian McLagen. The track presentation is wonderful - the discs are not segregated by material, but instead the tracks are mixed so that newly-available tracks are interspersed among the songs we know and love...the over-all feel is like a concert; you never know what is coming next, but you know it will be great. The box-set credits include "Box Set Produced by Ian McLagen" and I believe that this box-set could only come from the hand of an insider. Left to their own, record-company execs would probably have produced a slick yet soulless greatest hits package...this, on the other hand, is an inside job put together in part by a man who knows his music, his band, and his fans.
I frequently hear the word "sloppy" as a descriptor of the Faces. "Sloppy," to some, carries connotations of laziness, lack of ability, shoddy workmanship. What I hear in the Faces is camaraderie, looseness, a true feel for the music and the fans...fueled in part by booze, perhaps, and a healthy dose of "bugger-off" to the stodgy and up-tight, but never lacking in ability, sincerity, and fun.
By the way, the music survived and survives the Faces untimely demise. Check out McLagen's recent "Rise and Shine" and "Best of British," Ronnie Wood's "Not for Beginners," "Slide on This," and "Slide on Live," and all of the late Ronnie Lane's albums. Better yet, come to Austin and join Mac and the Bump Band live or catch them on tour.