Saturday, September 26, 2020

Small Faces, Faces and Rod Stewart

The Small Faces never really made a name for themselves in the U.S., despite their popularity in the U.K. and releasing one of those lost gems, indeed one of the top LPs ever produced in Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, an LP that many compare to Sgt. Pepper. The band had just one psychedelic hit with "Itchycoo Park," but The Small Faces were seemingly too British for the States. The original members included Steve Marriot, who would go on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Ian McLagan. Steve Marriot would leave the band in 1968 in dramatic fashion, walking off the stage and shouting, "I quit!" The rest of the band would join up with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart and shorten their name to Faces. Stewart would front the band while simultaneously having a successful solo career; his hits with the band assimilating into his own canon.

Faces hits included "Stay With Me," "Cindy Incidentally," and "It's All Over Now."

Rod Stewart's solo career started with the debut in 1969 called The Rod Stewart Album in the U.S., and the more cryptic An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down in the U.K. For the LP, Stewart took on the role of song stylist, along the lines of Joe Cocker, with more than half of the LP's tracks the songs of others, including The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" and the traditional "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow," which George Clooney sang so soulfully in O Brother, Where Art Thou, channeling Ry Cooder. The follow-up, Gasoline Alley, would do the same, with Stewart penning only three songs. Both were critically acclaimed, though sales were minimal.

Rod's breakthrough LP, a worldwide smash, was Every Picture Tells a Story, which contains one of my top ten singles "Maggie May." It's an AOR classic, but the majority of songs play like hit singles including, the title track, "That’s All Right," "Reason to Believe" and "Madoline Wind." Maggie May's intro is a lovely guitar solo called "Henry." The LP ranks No. 172 of Billboard's Top 500 LPs. Its odd perforated cover makes a mint copy a rarity.

Stewart would go on to be a superstar in the late 70s and 80s with hits like "Forever Young," "Do You Think I’m Sexy," "Sailin'," "Tonight’s the Night," and even Tom Wait's "Downtown Train." From hard rockers to American standards, Rod Stewart has been as chameleon-like as David Bowie.

As a member of The Small Faces, Steve Marriott was pretty much Mod London's poster boy – like Jimmy from The Who's Quadrophenia. While Ogden's Nut Gone Flake was the band's Pet Sounds, it has since become somewhat obscure. As a collectible, it retains its value as being the only round record sleeve (with the exception of the special edition of PIL, which came in a metal film canister). Despite the LP's merits, its only notoriety is that the title track was sued in the opening of Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s the 2nd of Marriott's tunes to reach GTA status; the song "Cocaine" was utilized on a fictitious radio station on GTA4.

Marriot would go on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. Humble Pie would be only slightly more successful in America, their only charting LPs Smokin' and Eat It, which got up to Nos. 6 and 7 respectively on the Billboard 100. They had no hits, but are stilled featured on deep track rock stations with "30 Days in the Hole."

Ron Wood, of course, would leave Faces and join The Rolling Stones in 1975.

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