TICKET TORN IN HALF: FEBRUARY 17, 1971- FACES (listed as SMALL FACES) and SAVOY BROWN, THE GREASE BAND.
The Spring semester began only a few weeks ago and it is obvious we are not the same group as we were in September. Many of my cronies disappeared from campus. Some failed out, two got busted, one arrested on campus and expelled, others transferred, one left without warning stealing about 40 of my albums(another story for a later date)… so the “clique”changed. The radio station gave me more responsibilities as “record librarian” and more hours on the air. It seemed to be that they liked what I was doing. The time at the radio station combined with being “business manager/co-editor” of the campus newspaper, officer in the student government, and a member of the concert committee left little time for academics. Fortunately, my course work was basically liberal arts basket weaving thrown in with my business classes. Needless to say, I was having too much fun while still maintaining a 3.5 GPA.
I called a girl I reacquainted with at The Dominoes (Suffolk Community) out on an official date to see THE FACES. To my sheer surprise she said YES. We took the train in and arriving in NYC, it started to snow pretty hard so I thought it best we eat in a place closer to the Fillmore. Inside the theater The Grease Band was a disaster without Joe Cocker, followed by Savoy Brown without Chris Youlden, Roger Earl, Lonesome Dave, or Tone Stevens, so we had only one hope left , THE FACES. And, THE FACES did not disappoint, as a matter of fact they were one of the best, most fun, bands I had ever seen.My date agreed. Ronnie Wood kicked it off on pedal steel with SWEET LADY MARY, the band cranked it up with I DON’T WANT TO DISCUSS IT, TOO MUCH WOMAN(an Ike Turner cover),The Stones STREET FIGHTING MAN, Rod Stewart out did Paul McCartney on Paul’s new tune, MAYBE I’M AMAZED, followed by Ian McLagen, Ronnie Lane, and Kenny Jones playing their roles in IT’S ALL OVER NOW,I’M LOSING YOU, LOVE IN VAIN,AROUND THE PLYNTH,AN OLD RAINCOAT NEVER LET’S YOU DOWN, GASOLINE ALLEY, THREE BUTTON HAND ME DOWN and an encore of Elton John’s COUNTRY COMFORT. All while we were seated in the second row center with me taping the show on my trusty cheap cassette recorder. It was a wonderful night, and we lucked out in catching the midnight train back home. Unfortunately it was still snowing and the drive to get her home took longer than I had hoped, and then I still had to travel one hour back to my room in a heavy snow. Got settled after 3 AM with the snow piling up all around me. Micro-Economics Class at 8AM, followed by Macro at 9AM. Something has to give soon.
THE FACES became a favorite of mine to see live as one never knew what to expect. The FILLMORE EAST night had the band chugging MATEUS wine, bottle after bottle which littered the amp tops, keyboards, and drum riser. It has been said the FACES refused anymore engagements at FILLMORE EAST for the fact that “you can NOT get drunk twice in one night”, meaning two sets per night is one too many. So who are these guys?
It’s early 1968 and on the clear evening with a wire antenna attached to my AM/FM Panasonic radio I can pick up CKLW 800-AM-“The Big 8” a station serving WINDSOR,Ontario and DETROIT,Michigan. THE BIG 8 is said to be “the blackest white station in America” playing a unique integrated mix serving Ontario, Detroit and some (clear) nights heard in Cleveland and as far as New York. Commercials needed the disclaimer “Not available in Ontario”.The only problem is the station, a Canadian broadcaster, legally had to play 30% of music from Canada, which in some cases was good as we were introduced to Joni Mitchell and The Guess Who.
So… “ here’s the #1 Canadian hit single ITCHYCOO PARK” by a band I had heard about but never “heard” their music. I wrote down the name of the band, searched for the record and finally found the 45 RPM. It was wonderful. “Itchycoo Park/I’m Only Dreaming” 45rpm on IMMEDIATE RECORDS. A few weeks later I had the album… “There Are But Four Small Faces” a US only release. “My Way of Giving”, “Tin Solder”, “Here Comes The Nice”, all great tunes. In the summer of 68, SMALL FACES-“Ogdens’Nut Gone Flake” which is a blast is released. It is a precursor for HUMBLE PIE to be sure and “Happiness Stan” is one of my heroes. A few years later I played side two in its entirety on my college late night radio program and never got one complaint. Either people didn’t care or weren’t listening. Makes no never mind to me, I loved that album.
Then, STEVE MARRIOTT leaves to form HUMBLE PIE with PETER FRAMPTON, JERRY SHIRLEY and GREG RIDLEY. “PIE” was phenomenal after they dropped the acoustic stuff, so powerful they literally “Rocked The Fillmore”.
The SMALL FACES now left without a frontman picked up two of JEFF BECK GROUP (#1) alumni who are unemployed due to BECK’S car accident. RONNIE WOOD, a bass player for BECK and a guitarist by trade, along with vocalist extradonaire ROD STEWART join up after IAN McLAGEN assists in the making of THE ROD STEWART ALBUM. Fun ensues at the recording so “WOODIE and STEW” join the SMALL FACES as the band is (still) known in The States. At home they are “Faces”, no THE, no SMALL, just FACES.
“First Step” is released spring of 70 followed by an extensive American tour lasting through November.The band plays at both FILLMORE EAST and WEST, BOSTON TEA PARTY, many colleges, The Action House, Unganos, just about any size venue, anywhere… everywhere.
The summer of 70, “Gasoline Alley” the second solo endeavor for Rod Stewart is released and becomes a huge hit. Another FACES tour is planned to which Rod commits while also continuing to record solo works.
February of 71, a few night after I saw them at FILLMORE EAST, “Long Player” by The FACES is out making some noise in the charts and on the road they go for another extended tour.
All is smooth and fun loving until EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY (May 1971) hits the charts with the single “Maggie May” becoming a worldwide #1 hit. While “Faces” were playing on Rod’s solo albums, FACES as a band was a separate entity, a touring phenomena. Unfortunately to those new fans only invested in hearing “Maggie May” they had to endure “Faces”, an otherwise great live band. Constant calls for Rod’s hits lead to a bit of distraction to the band members not named Rod.
“A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse” released in November 71 showed the skills of Ronnie Lane as a vocalist and songwriter. His song “Debris” is only one indication of their past and their future.
Unfortunately, I saw them November 26, 1971 at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN (FACES/CACTUS/BULL ANGUS) and wrote a scathing review of the show and the crowd. “Joshua TV” with its closed circuit video system was used for the first time giving those in attendance a close up of FACES.The other bands were not included in this aspect of the show. Bull Angus was hard to hear which was a blessing, CACTUS muffled, and FACES drunk. My review got negative feedback from the big wigs at WB Records. My “freebie” privilege was revoked.
Rod Stewart’s solo “Never A Dull Moment” hits the stores in summer of 72 and goes to #1with the single “You Wear It Well” topping the charts.
Many are now considering Faces to be Rod Stewart’s “backing band” to the dismay of founding member/bassist and once a primary vocalist, RONNIE LANE.
During the winter, back in England the band starts working on “OOH LA LA”. Rod Stewart’s new pop star persona makes him virtually disappear from the recording sessions forcing Ronnie Lane to take control of a band which was originally his. When the record is released March of 73 Rod Stewart bad mouths the record in the press infuriating Ronnie Lane who after the tour to promote the album quits. The FACES continued on for 2 1/2 years without producing another album, basically touring as ROD STEWART and THE FACES.
May 10,1973 at Nassau Memorial …Ronnie Lane, one of his last gigs with FACES. Jo Jo Gunne opens the show, consisting of a few guys from the remnants of SPIRIT. FACES were good that night, Ronnie Lane exceptionally good. In the late 1970’s Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which had effected his mother and two siblings earlier in life.
Back to ROD STEWART, in October 74 he releases “Smiler” which basically sucks. But continues to tour as ROD STEWART and FACES until …1976 , Faces no more. Ron Wood joins the STONES, KENNY JONES drummed for THE WHO after KEITH MOON’S death in 78.
In a few weeks I’ll write my rant about “April Fool” a great collection by the none other best of the best, RONNIE LANE.…