Faces Come Back to Life

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Posted by Greg on August 26, 2014 at 7:08 pm
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The Faces (1973). Pictured clockwise from left to right: Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones. Courtesy of WireImage

As Summer winds down, we thought you might be interested in a new Journalism addition to the site today. Cameron talks with The Faces for this 1973 interview with Circular magazine.  Cameron interviewing Rod Stewart between blow drying his hair creates quite a visual. Enjoy…

Faces Come Back to Life

Chasing Faces Through the Showers. Double Album, maybe.

It was originally due out in September, this notorious Rod Stewart/faces live double album. Recorded earlier this year at Philadelphia’s Spectrum and Chicago’s Amphitheatre, the package would have been the quintessential back-to-school item. But alas, it is now wintertime and the album has vanished from imminence.

“Two for tea,” cracks Ian McLagen while surveying the setting for his interview – backstage at the San Diego Sports Arena. The Faces have just encored, leaving behind 16,000 fans in a state of euphoria and turning a few jaded heads as well. The dressing room is predictably loud and hectic. McLagen is sitting on metal chairs and shower stalls down the hall. Every word promptly reverberates within tiled walls.

“The live album will be totally redone,” reveals McLagen. “We’re recording both Anaheims (the next night’s two shows at the Anaheim Convention Center) and the Palladium.” Pause. “I can’t hear at all. My ears are gone.” McLagen punctuates the statement by thrusting a finger into one of his blocked ears and jiggling wildly.

On that note, Connie De Nave, Faces’ publicist, enters. “Rod’s ready to talk,” she declares, leading the way to yet another dubious interview site: the john. Here Rod Stewart has a few moments to talk while he blow-dries his famous hair. “Me here is like a fookin’ lawn,” he mumbles amid the clamor of his hand dryer. “Got to sow it and mow it.”

Stewart then proceeds to set the ground rules for the conversation. While asked questions, Rod will continue gardening his lawn. When he responds to the queries, he’ll shut the blow-dryer off for the benefit of the tape recorder. Rod swiftly, amiably, clicks on and the interviewer brings up the aborted live LPs.

“Yeah, we’re recording the last three gigs of this tour. We’ll see how it turns out. I dunno if it’ll be a double album or not. We can’t say right now, but there’ll be about five or six new numbers instead of doing the same old tunes. We want to give everybody some new stuff from us. We’re recording ‘Wish It Would Rain’, ‘Stealer’, ‘Jealous Guy’ and a couple of original ones, too.” Rod snaps on his dryer.

The segregation between Faces LPs (on Warner Bros. Records) and Rod Stewart solo albums (on Phonogram Records) will dissolve with Stewart’s next solo effort. The live album is the first of the new arrangement. All LPs will be be Rod Stewart/Faces records and a special agreement between labels will solve contractual snags. The writer is curious if this decision was result of original Faces bassist Ronnie Lane’s exit last spring.

“No,” Rod clicks off. “The decision was made before he left. We all sat down…Well, let me explain it to you. Basically, I have to do most of the work. What with having to turn out my own albums, work hard in the group albums and belt out all those songs on tours, you just can’t give 100% to everything. It’s impossible…but I wouldn’t say I’ve abandoned doing solo albums and I wouldn’t say we’ve quit doing Faces albums. We’re gonna combine the two somehow. It’s just too much work. It’s a lot of work trying to cover all the bases. Then again, perhaps we’ll carry on in the old fashion. I dunno.” Click.

One Year On

Stewart’s new solo album, due out in early 1974, has consumed well over a year of work. This is the longest Rod has ever dwelled on one recording project. Is this any indication of a departure, perhaps a turn to more production, from previous LPs?

“You can’t compare,” Stewart responds. “What I try with my own albums is to get that Gasoline Alley feel. I believe that was my finest achievement. That’s what I’m gonna try to do with my next album, Pattern it after Gasoline Alley. If there are any fucking mistakes, just leave ’em on.

“‘Oh No, Not My Baby’ isn’t representative of what’s to come. I did it for a giggle. It did well in England as a single, but that’s it. It’s not even going on the album unless as a filler. Ain’t a bad filler is it? Christ, if every track’s better than that, it’ll be a good album, won’t it?”
Stewart, who has always been partial to Marvin Gaye – Tammy Terrel – styled R&B duets, can’t foresee himself attempting the same.

Someone suggests aloud a collaboration between Rod and, say, The Pointer Sisters.”If I was going to do a duet album,” he balks, “I’d do it with someone like Paul Rodgers (of the now defunct Free). Just as a fling. The Pointer Sisters don’t need me. They’re incredible as they are. Paul Rodgers doesn’t need me either, but our styles blend into something really valuable. He could very well be on the next album. I asked him to do a track.”

Back to Mac

McLagen is still seated contently in the shower. We ask him to comment on the extent bassist Tetsu Yamauchi (Lane’s replacement) has altered the Faces sound. “We’ve become looser in some ways,” says Mac, “but tighter as well. That doesn’t make much sense, does it? I think Tetsu is technically capable of a lot more than Ronnie was. It’s made us tighten up, really. We’ve had rehearsals with Tetsu in England. The numbers have changed drastically. For the better. It’s led us to different things. Which is nice. ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ has changed a lot.

“I haven’t spoken to Ronnie Lane lately. I know he’s getting a band together. He’s probably recording right now. I haven’t been home in six weeks, so I don’t know anything for sure.”McLagen heaves a tired sigh as he recounts the band’s plans in the immediate future. “We’ll go back to England after this tour and finish up a single called ‘Pool Hall Richard.’ The flipside, ‘Wish It Would Rain’ was recorded at a festival before we left for this tour.” Ian bangs the side of his head with his palm. “I still can’t hear…We’ll finish the single and then mix the live stuff. Then we have a day off. Then we start the English tour, which lasts three or four weeks. We have Christmas Day off. After that we have Japanese and Australian tours to do. Following those, we’ll start the sessions for the next Rod/Faces album.

“Glyn John’s won’t be producing it this time. We’ve done two albums with him already (A Nod’s As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse, Ooh La La). It’s time for a change. Glyn’s done a good job for us, don’t get me wrong. Ooh La La probably would have suffered more if it weren’t for him. That album definitely suffered, though. Ronnie (Lane) was going one way and we were going another. A lot of his ideas didn’t get used. A lot of Rod’s ideas didn’t get used. There was a clash. It took a year, for example, to do the title track.”

Great or Else

And as for that live album, “It’s gonna be bitchin’ good…or it ain’t coming out. That’s why we’re redoing it. It was good, I suppose. It would have been nice to have a live album with Ronnie on it, a document of what we were originally.”

Rod Stewart, his hair fully dry, emerges to join the conversation. “The live act will always be essentially the same,” he adds. We just bloody well try and put a smile on everybody’s faces. If they all smile, then we’ll smile and that’s what it’s all about anyway. We don’t wear make up, but we sure can play rock & roll.”

McLagen, as if on cue, whoops for joy. “My ears! They’re clear,” he shrieks.

Courtesy of Circular – Cameron Crowe – December 3, 1973

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