Rod Stewart has been an old guy, solo performer my entire life. The kind of bloke my 65 year old mum thinks is rock and roller. Ronnie Wood is a later addition to the Rolling Stones, but in a band that old, even later additions have bent here for decades. For years I have known who those dues were and defined them as I just did. I don’t know when I first found out they had high profile careers before that, but it was little while ago. Long enough ago that I should have listened to some Faces, like A Nod is as Good as Wink to a Blind Horse, long before now.
A real 70s combo of rock and blues, Miss Judy’s Farm makes it obvious why Ronnie Wood seemed like a good choice for the Stones when they recruited him. It’s also the first time I’ve heard Stewart’s gravelly voice put to good use. Turns out, all those shit power ballads I grew up with Stewart singing were just bad song choices. Because he sounds almost bad ass here.
After another cool, bluesy rocker with You’re So Rude, we get a glimpse of what Stewart would become, with the shitty, shitty crooning of Love Lives Here. His voice was made to rock, not woo. But things improve again on Last Orders Please, a piano fuelled traditional rock and roll number that keeps things great buy keeping things simple.
Things get nice and sleazy when the slide guitar and Hammond organ are let loose on Stay With Me. And Stewart’s lyrics about some loose strumpet named Rita are appropriately saucy. Slowed down, with plenty of room for guitar noodling, Debris is the kind of song I assume a lot of 80s hair metal bands looked to when they decided to write the crappy slow song that appeared on so many 80s hair metal albums around track eight or nine.
If it wasn’t for Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood’s careers in the years since, I’m not sure Faces would be talked about all that much today, and that would be as shame. Whenever I hear Faces mentioned, it’s always a side note to something about Stewart or Wood. But now that I’ve listened to A Nod is as Good as Wink to a Blind Horse, it seems like it should be the other way around.
Memphis, Too Bad and That’s All You Need close things out with a return to the solid, blues based rock and roll that opened A Nod is as Good as Wink to a Blind Horse, and it really is the perfecting ending to an album that was so much better than I ever anticipated.
Stewart’s solo shittiness should be talked about a disappointing footnote when talking about Faces. And Wood’s works with the Stones should be seen as the acceptable, but unexceptional semi-retirement of a dude whose old band should have rivalled the Stones for fame, fortune and notoriety.