Let’s Not Call It a Faces Reunion

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20120801_faces--the-best-of-faces_33Last night’s show (9/5) at the Huntswood Polo Club in Surrey, U.K. by Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones was tagged far and wide as a Faces Reunion, but not here at Best Classic Bands. Though the Rock ‘n’ Horsepower charity show organized by Jones and his wife was for a good cause – prostate cancer research; Jones is a survivor of the disease – and I have no doubt the reported crowd of some 5,000 well-heeled folks had themselves a real good time (to adapt a Faces song title). But from the moment it was announced I couldn’t bring myself to call Stewart (once my favorite rock singer; see here for one reason), Wood and and Jones playing together for the first time since the band broke up in 1975 a reunion of The Faces – one of my favorite bands ever.

I know this is a minority opinion. But one big reason why for me from the outset: My friendship with (and loyalty to) late Faces/Small Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan, who died of a stroke last December (see my tribute to him here). It was McLagan who kept the Faces style alive on his recordings and performances with his Austin, TX-based Bump Band, and who had tried again and again to reconvene the four surviving Faces Faces-First-Stepin recent years (bassist Ronnie Lane died in 1997 after a two decade struggle with multiple sclerosis). McLagan, Wood and Jones did manage to reprise the band a number of times without Stewart with such folks as former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman or ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock on bass and some guest singers, most notably Mick Hucknall from Simply Red. He also recorded an album of 10 songs written or co-written by Lane (as well as a salute he wrote to his mate, “Hello Old Friend”), Spiritual Boy, that was released on what would have been Lane’s 60th birthday on April Fool’s Day 2006. (I also got to know Lane and later Wood after doing PR work on the 1983 Ronnie Lane Appeal for ARMS tour of America.)

Quite simply, in my view, no Mac, no Faces. When I woke up today and started reading the news reports of the Stewart, Wood and Jones show, I found even more reason to not call it a Faces reunion: Three of the seven songs they played were from Stewart solo albums! (Which, yes, The Faces played on.) Ten backing musicians played along, and it took not one but two keyboard players to (not quite successfully) replicate McLagan’s contributions.

faces-a-nod-is-as-good-as-a-winkFor me, the real Faces Reunion for the rock history books was on October 25th 2009 at London’s Royal Albert Hall in a benefit show for the British Performing Rights Society’s Music Members Benevolent Fund. Mac, Woody and Kenny were joined by a (U.K.) star-studded line-up that included Wyman, Hucknall, Paul Carrack, Andy Fairweather Low, Kiki Dee, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Georgie Fame, Albert Lee and others.

Ultimately, it’s up to you, the fans, to decide what was a valid reunion. Below are snippets from last night and the 2009 show, plus a show by the five Faces on the BBC from their heyday to remind us how wonderful they were. If only Stewart, Wood, Jones and McLagan had managed to reunite together just one time….

Rob Patterson

Rob Patterson

Rob Patterson began writing about music in 1976. Since his first published record review in Crawdaddy he has contributed to numerous national popular music magazines such as Creem, Musician, Circus, Spin, Request, Tower Pulse!, CD Review, Acoustic Guitar, Harp and many others along with major country music, consumer audio, musical instrument and studio recording magazines plus international publications New Musical Express and Country Music People in the U.K. From 1977 to '84 he wrote a nationally syndicated music column as well as stories for Newspaper Enterprises Association/United Feature Syndicate that ran in more than 400 daily newspapers across the nation. His work has also appeared in many weekly newspapers, onlinepublications like Salon.com and The Huffington Post, such books as the Rolling Stone Record Guide & Revised Record Guide, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History and The Year In Rock, 1980-81, plus liner notes for 20 album releases.
Rob Patterson
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