Faces: “A nod is as good as a wink…to a blind horse”
Secondhand Vinyl Album (Purchased at Ernie November Sioux Falls, SD)
Original Release Date: 1971 Warner Bros.
(My Rating: 4 Stars)
Miss Judy’s Farm
You’re So Rude
Love Lives Here
Last Orders Please
Stay With Me
That’s All You Need
To begin, I'd like to paraphrase in three words my thoughts regarding the album, “A nod is as good as a wink…” by the band Faces. In a nutshell this album could be described as rollicking, flirty, and most importantly frustrating. I’ll state that the latter of these descriptors came as a major surprise to me considering this record starts out with a boisterous howl from lead vocalist, Rod Stewart, that had this listener immediately hooked. If only Faces would’ve acknowledged the irreplaceable talent they possessed through his voice and had used it with complete monogamy.
As stated earlier the album, “A nod is as good as a wink…” announces itself with a bang, or in this case Rod’s signature rasp, during the song, “Miss Judy’s Farm.” This blogger believes that after it's introductory lyrics even a first time listener of Faces would clearly recognize who’s singing. Here’s where I like to think a novice fan would state, “Oh, Rod Stewart’s in this band?!” while immediately turning up the volume. Luckily, I was initially aware of who the members of Faces were and therefore already had my stereo cranked to the appropriate classic rock listening level…which is obviously loud. At this volume it’s impossible to anticipate any sort of disappointment regarding the album. Between the awesome guitar playing of Ronnie Wood, the intoxicating keyboard solos of Ian McLagan, and Stewart’s overall swagger, immediately presented during, “Miss Judy’s Farm,” a listener is instantly confident they’re in for one heck of a, “5 Star,” record.
Of course just when I was settling into the idea of this album’s, “monumental,” status it transitions into its’ second song, “You’re So Rude,” and all of a sudden this listener was like, “Who the heck is this dude singing?!” Yes folks, I hate to say it but Faces apparently thought their fans would be okay with using bass player, Ronnie Lane, as the lead vocalist on the songs he composed. “WHY?!,” I ask them, “Why would you do such a thing when you have freaking Rod Stewart in your band?!” My best guess is that Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood were both late additions to the band Faces and therefore didn’t have seniority when it came to making overall decisions. This is the only way I can justify replacing Rod’s vocals with the, in my opinion, sub-par singing coming from the band's bassist. While the song, “You’re So Rude,” is full of impressive guitar and harmonica solos that accompany extremely witty lyrics, a listener can’t help but feel disappointed that Rod took a backseat for this number. “That’s so rude!” I thought.
Unfortunately, bassist and founding member of Faces, Ronnie Lane continues to sing two more songs on this album including, “Last Orders Please,” and, “Debris.” Again, both of these pieces contain solid instrumental examples of this band’s legitimacy among other classic rock giants. However, this blogger can’t help but wonder what these songs could have been had Faces simply used Rod Stewart’s voice as the lead.
Some of the most notable moments on, “A nod is as good as a wink…” can be found during Faces hit single, “Stay With Me,” where Stewart’s, "hoots," and, "howls," have enough charisma to draw back in even the most disappointed listener. It’s as if he’s saying, “I know you really didn’t like, “You’re So Rude,” but, “Stay With Me,” and I’ll show you what we’re capable of.” In the end Rod holds true to his promise, especially with the last song on the album, “That’s All You Need.” Here guitarist, Ronnie Wood, plays a crunchy concoction of blues and country that perfectly compliments the sound of Stewart’s chanting. It’s during this particular song that a listener really finds themselves believing in the combined power of Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart. While researching this album I found out that these two musicians were also both members of The Jeff Beck Group prior to joining Faces. It’s songs like, “That’s All You Need,” that make this blogger confident that these artists had a meaningful connection to each other that greatly exceeded their matching hairstyles. No, the hair was just a bonus.
Lastly, my absolute favorite song on this album is, “Love Lives Here.” Admittedly, I’m a huge sucker for classic rock ballads. In my opinion this song is an example of perfection regarding this genre. While I continue to praise Rod Stewart’s voice as not only the soul, but the sass, of this album I find the keyboard playing of Ian McLagan to be simply gorgeous during this song. It’s rare musicians of this type of caliber that make this blogger reflect on her own life. During, “Love Lives Here,” I found myself recalling a favorite memory of mine where an ex-boyfriend had left a cactus for me on my kitchen table with a note beside it that read, “You make me feel like it’s summer all the time.” Basically, that’s how this song makes me feel. The sounds of McLagan’s keyboard paired with Stewart’s singing makes me think of sunshine behind closed eyelids. It’s just that warm and fuzzy! Despite how beautiful this song feels its’ lyrics are actually quite sad. However in my mind this is perfect because, like my cactus memory, this song reminds me that some of the best things in life are fleeting. Keeping this in mind, when one is presented with an album where Rod Stewart only gets to sing lead vocals on six out of nine songs remember to enjoy the hell out of these treasures. Take my word for it, they have the ability to make you feel like it’s summer even if it’s only the beginning of March.
"Stay With Me": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtqF0qBqzZo