Evita – Firstly, let me say that I don’t like Musicals; especially the Lloyd Webber type. However I was a big fan of Julie Covington and when she had a big hit with ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ I went out and bought the album. And this was long before the Musical had ever appeared on the stage. Lloyd Webber and Lyricist Tim Rice had got together a few great singers and recorded the whole thing. Now, do I like it? Sort of….in a way. I love the lyrics and there are a few good tunes in there – but as time goes on it remains a curiosity piece and not a favourite.
Faces – Ah, now that was a band and a half. Formed out of the remains of The Small Faces after Stevie Marriott left them. They wanted a new lead guitarist and chose Ronnie Wood who suggested they have a new lead singer too….and along came Rod Stewart (see S) who had played with Wood in Jeff beck’s band. The rest, as they say, is History. The complication was that Rod was signed to Mercury records as a solo artist and The Faces were with Warner Brothers. So, Rod was making at least two albums a year, one with the band and the other, ostensibly a solo but usually with the band too. All this mattered not a jot until Rod hit the big time with ‘Maggie May’ and agents started calling then band Rod Stewart and the Faces. But in the beginning, it really was a group effort. First off the blocks was First Steps (1970). Well, I never really liked this album, at least to begin with. It seemed a very tentative record, the band playing stuff they used to play as The Small Face live and trying out a couple of new songs. At least the whole band gets a look-in on songwriting but there is no cohesion to the record. Best song by far is Ronnie Lanes (see L) ‘Stone’, a brilliant little song, as all of his with the band were. (incidentally he also recorded this with Pete Townshend (see T). Two boring instrumentals and a fine song by the two Ronnies ‘Nobody Knows’: a cover of Dylan’s ‘Wicked messenger’ – apart from that the songs don’t really work for me. But the follow-up Long Player was a real classic. This was recorded and released before the success of ‘Maggie May’, and as is often the case with just pre-fame albums it brims with great songs. Best are the three tracks on side one ‘Sweet Lady Mary’, ‘Richmond’ and a great live rendition of McCartney’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. Side 2 is a bit sprawling but has ‘Feel So Good’ and the lovely instrumental from Ronnie Wood of ‘Jerusalem’. Later the same year they released ‘A Nod’s As Good As A Wink (to a blind horse)’ which was them reveling in new-found fame, At this time they really were the best live band in England and had a string of hits (mostly under Rod’s name, but ‘Stay With Me’ from this album. But the best songs on the record are a searing cover of Chick Berry’s ‘Memphis’ and a beautiful Ronnie Lane effort ‘Debris’. This album also cemented the writing partnership of Rod and Woody, 5 of the 9 songs are by them and 2 by Ronnie Lane. Stewart and Wood would co-write most of the next few Rod Stewart albums too, before Ronnie eventually succumbed and joined the Stones. At this time The Who, The Faces and The Stones were all great friends and Ronnie Land and Pete Townshend ended up releasing a couple of albums together while Kenny Jones eventually joined the Who after Keith Moon’s death. Tensions were rising in the band as Rod’s solo career skyrocketed and several promoters were adding the Faces as his backing band. Their final album was 1973’s ‘Ooh La La’ which Rod missed much of the recording of due to solo promotional work. In fact, Rod dismissed the album as rubbish, despite it getting to number 1 in the UK. Later this year Ronnie Lane, who was really the creative force behind the band left and was replaced by relatively unknown bass player Tetsu Yaumichu. They went on to release a couple of singles and toured for a couple of years but failed to make it back into the studio as a band. Wood eventually left for The Stones and Rod, already a solo superstar said goodbye to the band too. Who knows what would have happened had Rod not achieved such fame with ‘Maggie May’. Anyway, the album Ooh La La is really a Ronnie inspired record; well, not a bad album really though one always felt they could do better. Great single ‘Cindy Incidentally’ is by far the best song. Nothing else on the album comes up to scratch except the title track sung by Lane. Such a pity, and almost certainly Rod was saving all his best songs for his own albums. A live album Coast to Coast, Overtures and Beginners came out in 1974, This was credited to Rod Stewart and the Faces, relegating them to his backing band; the songs are mostly from Rod’s solo albums but there are a couple of covers; ‘I wish It would Rain’ and ‘Jealous Guy’ that stand out and make the album worth having. I of course have one of the many Greatest Hits compilations and it shows what a great band they could be at times.