From 1969 to 1975 the Faces - Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, and Kenney Jones - played their loose and joyful blues and soul-inflected rock 'n' roll with reckless abandon, consummate skill, and immeasurable charm. For those few years they were arguably the greatest band on the planet, and their influence has resonated ever since through the music of countless acts, from the Sex Pistols to The Replacements to The Black Crowes, and on and on. After the Faces dissolved in 1975, Stewart went on to solo superstardom, Wood to the Stones, Jones to The Who, McLagan to world - class session work and his own recordings, and Lane to acclaimed solo projects before he succumbed to multiple sclerosis in 1997. Greater than the sum of its parts, the Faces made now - immortal music for which there will never, ever be a last call.
England's Faces (1970-1975) wound up playing stadiums, but they always had a compact, pub-band feel. They were proud boozers, tuning up wasn't a major obsession, and Rod Stewart (in pre-disco prime) always sounded like he'd sung himself hoarse the night before. They kept the mood light, but ensemble work was deceptively tight, thanks to drummer Kenney Jones (later Keith Moon's replacement in the Who) and guitarist Ron Wood (post-Jeff Beck, pre-Stones), who'd switch between raunchy lead and raunchy rhythm roles between beats. Wood's blues-drenched slide work snuffed most of his rock competition, and helped define the band's wiry sound. But Faces offered more than teapot blues. Tuneful bassist Ronnie Lane's sweet voice and countryish melodies--think "Ooh La La," revived as the movie Rushmore's closing theme--both lightened and deepened the texture. Keyboardist Ian McLagan picked and sequenced 67 tracks, programming them out of chronological order, to flow like concert sets. Included are abundant rarities--out-takes, b-sides, rehearsals, BBC-broadcast excerpts--including live takes of songs Faces recorded under Stewart's name, like "Gasoline Alley" and "Maggie May." (A few tunes are heard in live and studio versions.) It's a very good selection of music that wears remarkably well. --Kevin Whitehead