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February 19, 2014

A must read for fans of Faces


posted by Mike Walton

One of things that has always bothered me about the way in which the Faces ended as a band was that they never got to complete that last, final album back in 1975.
They had every intention of recording another LP, except for Rod, whose heart was just not in it at the time.
Sessions were attempted on at least three separate occasions during ‘75, with not very fruitful results, unfortunately. It still amazes me that the band continued on without any new band product for nearly three years, not counting the two UK hit singles. At least nothing that merits official release at the time. Four tracks would eventually come out from these unreleased sessions on the Five Guys boxed set in 2004. Woody, Mac and Kenney would all put the blame squarely on Rod’s shoulders for not having another album completed, with good reason Rod was just not at all interested in recording again with his live backing band (as I’m sure he thought and made it obvious).

Since Rod (their lead vocalist) was not putting much serious effort of himself into such a project, it was doomed to fail from the start although the Faces as a unit were playing better than ever before at that time. Even after Rod had quit the band they still had every intention of recording
that last album before they went their separate ways, but sadly that also was not meant to be.

So what did the Faces fan get as a going away gift from the band? Well… a record company that completely neglected the band’s catalog for one. The closest thing to a goodbye album was Snakes and Ladders issued in October 1976. A well-chosen best of collection with an artsy album cover and two A-side singles that lots of US Faces fans didn’t have.

No wonder that the Faces are not very well remembered especially in the US, with no Faces product in stores to buy for many years. Unbelievable when you consider the groups importance. After all, the Faces were one of the most important rock ‘n’ roll bands of the early 70’s, am I right??
Even Grand Funk Railroad are more remembered in the US than the powerhouse Faces, Grand Funk??

The Faces boxed set was a great step in the right direction to setting things right, but more needs to be done to put the Faces up to where they belong. And It still seems remarkable to me that Warner Bros. never tried (more liked ignored) to milk the Faces catalog, while Rod’s old label kept on releasing compilation after compilation on a steady non-stop basis.

I have always thought there is enough material from all those uncompleted Faces sessions back from ‘75 and related recordings at the time to compile a “last” Faces album that would stand up with the other four studio efforts.
Somehow without that “last” step album, their legacy will forever remain incomplete. There is also probably enough unreleased recordings (different takes anyway) to fill up another two disc Faces set.

So what about the last Faces sessions out takes and related recordings made during that last year? Well, I have “sat and thought it over”…As a long time Faces aficionado here’s what I’ve gathered and come up with.

Hope you guys like it…

The Faces first attempted to record a new record album in late January was at Air Studios, London and then sessions continued on in March while the Faces were touring the US for eight weeks. The band had stopped in at a studio in Los Angeles,California during that tour but nothing got done due to a partying atmosphere and too many famous people hanging out with the band and all. Instead of getting down to business, it became nothing more than just long party jams.

Now, was there enough good recorded tracks to fill out a whole album? Well the answer is absolutely YES there is!! So what would be included in such an album? For starters the four tracks that was recorded in ’75 and issued on the Five Guys boxed set, “Hi-Heeled Sneakers/Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, “Gettin’ Hungry”, “Open To Ideas” and “Rock Me”. And also from the same time period was another unreleased track from those same sessions titled “Sailing Down The River”(various Faces bootlegs circulating around with this outtake), a nice laid back tune that is nearly as good as “Open to Ideas” and somehow missed inclusion on the Faces four disc set.These tracks were obviously not entirely completed. Rod’s vocals for instance are only guide vocals and the lyrics aren’t finished or refined yet. Still the band as a whole is playing better than ever before(tighter really) and sounding like they had something to prove(to Rod?). Those four tracks would have to make up the core of a proposed “last album”.

Another unreleased track from that year (might have been recorded sometime in late ’75) and just missed being issued on the Five Guys set was a cover of the Jim Ford song “I’d Be Ahead If I Could Quit While I’m Behind”, a nice country type tune that was done as a duet between Rod and Bobby Womack with the Faces on backing. This was not included on the Faces boxed set because Ian McLagan felt that Rod would not appreciate it being released, “because you could hear more Womack than Stewart” on the recording. It’s a shame that this was not included on the set, there are about five takes of this song recorded according to one source on the Faces Forum. And if you want to hear Womack’s solo version of it, released a year later on his album B.W. Goes C.W., you can google it and hear it. It’s easy to imagine Rod and the boys doing this number, are they still on the backing track for Womack’s solo version a year later? Take a listen and judge for yourself.

Another short Faces recording session happened in Nashville Tennessee on September 25th of ’75, at an unidentified studio, two backing tracks were recorded, “Cry To Me”(Bert Russell) and “Tracks Of My Tears”(Smokey Robinson!) And possibly one or two band originals. But it seems that it was mostly just a jam session with Jesse Ed Davis on second guitar with little to no involvement from Rod. In a statement that Ian McLagan made to the press at the time, “we did some recordings in Nashville when we had some time, we did one old number, which we can’t tell you about it in case someone else nicks it and two new songs…”, none of these recordings have ever surfaced and the tapes are probably lost forever, unfortunately.

With the Faces future very uncertain, in late July or early August of ’75 , Tetsu Yamauchi with McLagan entered Island Studios and did some recordings with Alan Merill and Paul Varley of the Arrows in the possibilities of forming a new band together in case the Faces folded. Three tracks were recorded with this lineup and those cuts can be found on the Tawny Tracks Arrows compilation of demos/unreleased material cd issued as bonus tracks in 2002.If the Faces had indeed recorded another album minus Rod, this is probably what they might have sounded like with Woody and Mac on vocals anyway. “Basing Street Leslie” (Tetsu self penned instrumental), “Come On Come On Baby” and “Somebody To Love”… these tracks
belong on a Faces album much more than on an Arrows album. And if they were to actually have recorded without Rod, it was quite possible that Alan Merill would have taken over some lead vocals as a guest vocalist… maybe? An instrumental was always part of a Faces deal and at least two numbers per album were sung besides the lead vocalist, which makes these tracks perfect for that last Faces disc.

An interesting related recording issued on September 7th 1975 was the solo single by Ron Wood’s brother Ted, of the jazz standard “Am I Blue” backed with the traditional song “Shine” for the Penney Farthing label, and the closest thing to a last Faces recording ever. And for that reason alone should be included on a proposed last Faces album (these two tracks belong nowhere else).As Ronnie Wood recalls about the session, Ted asked me and Ronnie Lane(!) to help out on recording a single. So with Ted Wood on lead vocals, Woody producing and playing Guitar(maybe bass?),Mac McLagan playing piano and Mickey Waller on the drums, with either Lane or Tetsu possibly also on bass. The A-side sounds a bit like the type of recordings Rod would years later issue on his American Songbooks volumes, minus the musical edge.
The B-side had a strange collection of background singers on it with Rod, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones plus Bobby Womack and Gary Glitter! A Really fun party song with great sax playing
towards the end of the tune courtesy of Ron Wood? These two numbers put together would make for a nice ending to a final Faces collection.

Without Rod, the remaining Faces had serious intentions of recording another record in early ’76 with support from their record label.Tetsu and roadie Chuck Magee even flew over to Paris, France to shop around for studios to use. Warner Bros. at first gave the band the go ahead, but then changed their minds and would only finance such a venture if Ron Wood would be willing to tour with the rest of the remaining Faces to promote it. This was the commitment that Warner wanted in order to pay for the studio costs, and since Wood was unwilling or couldn’t make any promises to tour, this was when the band ended for good, AND NOT WHEN THE ROD QUIT THE BAND.

And if you ever wondered what a Rod less Faces album would sound like, I suggest that you get yourself a copy of Mac McLagan’s excellent (and very Faces sounding) solo LP from 1979, this is what they would probably have sounded like without Rod.

Ladies and gentlemen…
Introducing my proposed FACES – “FINAL TOOT” album (named after their last tour)

1-High Heeled Sneakers (edit/fade out Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and it will make for an even stronger cut)
2-Getting’ Hungry (edit out Rod’s intro)
3-Basing Street Leslie (Tetsu instr.)
4-I’d Be Ahead If I could Quit While I’m Behind (Rod and Bobby Womack vocal duet)
5-Somebody To Love (Tetsu)
6-Rock Me (title should be changed to Rock Me all Night , with completed lyrics it would have made for a perfect album opener)
7-Sailing Down The River
8-Come On,Come On Baby (w/Tetsu & Mac)
9-Open To Ideas
10-Am I Blue (w/Woody & Mac & and possibly Lane or Tetsu on bass?)
11-Shine (w/Woody & Mac plus Rod and Kenney on backing vocals)
12-Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Spliced out from the medley,it would work great as a coda)

Bonus tracks should be “Smokestack Lightning” and “Wee,Wee Baby” from the last tour since they were never recorded by the band.

And if the Faces were actually ever to go back into the studio one day and record another album, you can consider that their last album.
Just don’t hold your breath for that one to ever happen folks!

1975 has got to be the most interesting and active time in both the Faces and Rod’s career. Two US tours, Woody on loan to the Stones and another solo LP being released. Rod dates a famous actress, and works on a new album without any of his previous musical entourage. While Mac, Kenney (who also recorded a second solo single that never was released with Paul McCartney even!) and Tetsu whom all worked on several sessions for other artists.
And during all that activity they somehow found the time to give out several interviews to any publication that would print it!


With love for the music the Faces made.

Dan “The Nonclickmember” Perreira

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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