Good Boys When They're Moonlighting

How many Faces does it take to make a Rod Stewart record?

No one ever demands to know how many Rolling Stones were present for a session to qualify it as a Stones recording. As long as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are present, the litmus test is passed. Yet many of the songs that are considered quintessential Stones tracks are missing key players, and I don't mean Bobby Keyes, either. On the Stones' 1974 hit "It's Only Rock and Roll," there are as many Faces as Stones. Only the Glimmer Twins were on hand for the jam at Ron Wood's house when Kenney Jones, the not-yet-a-Stone Ron Wood, David Bowie and Willie Weeks laid down the basic tracks. So does it really matter whether it's Kenney Jones or Mickey Waller on a Rod Stewart album if it's got Woody and Mac? Grow up, it's the Faces already. Here are some prime contenders for a Best of Faces, Volume 2.

The Rod Stewart Album (1969)

Titled An Old Raincoat Never Lets You Down in England, the American label thought that was too British. Then they complained that Rod's substitute title, Thin, was too subtle a joke and relegated it to small print on the cover's bottom left-hand corner. Not only did Rod have the arrogance to copy the look of the Stones' script cover for Beggars Banquet, he recut "Street Fighting Man" over what was originally going to be a cover of Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It." Ron Wood plays bass and guitar throughout with Ian McLagan doing keyboards on every track except two (one of which was guested on by Keith Emerson!). The drummer was Mickey Waller, the first but not the last guy to be booted out of the Jeff Beck Group for drinking too much.

Gasoline Alley (1970)

Woody's all over the place while Mac guests on two numbers, both cover tunes -- "It's All Over Now" and "My Way of Giving" -- an old Marriott/Lane Small Faces chestnut featuring the entire Faces pop group. There are but four Faces on "I Don't Wanna Discuss It." Excuse given on the credits for McLagan's absence? "Mac stayed home on account of the bus strike."

Every Picture Tells a Story (1971)

As with Gasoline Alley, Woody co-wrote the title track and plays bass and guitar throughout. Mac plays organ on three songs including the double-sided hit "Maggie May"/"Reason to Believe." All five Faces play on "(I Know I'm) Losing You," but the single's label reads Rod Stewart "with Faces" in teeny, tiny letters.

Never a Dull Moment (1972)

Woody co-wrote three tunes and the Faces play on one of them, "True Blue." Although featured as the B-side to "You Wear It Well," this Faces track deserves Aside status and certainly would've been a worthy follow-up to "Stay With Me." Mac, apparently still felled by that bus strike, is the only Face missing on "Twisting the Night Away."

"Oh No Not My Baby" b/w "Jodie" -- single (1973)

This really is a Faces single masquerading as a Rod job with the B-side yet another fine McLagan/Stewart/Wood composition. The ruse didn't work, as the A-side only fared as well as the typical Faces single, failing to crack the Top 40.

Smiler (1974)

The opening track, "Sweet Little Rock n' Roller," features the post-Lane, pre-Tetsu Faces and Zak the barking dog. This bunch minus Zak reappears on "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Man" and "Mine for Me," the song the other Mac, Paul McCartney, wrote especially for Rod. But no one will be smiling for long, since it contains the last Stewart/Wood tunes including "Dixie Toot," which also features The Chris Barber Jazz Band.

I've Got My Own Album to Do (1974)

Rod finally gets to return the favor, guesting on Ron Wood's first solo album. The rooster-maned pair duet on a cover of "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody." Woody also enlisted Keith Richards, and the Faces' pianist McLagan contributes to the loose festivities. How loose? Not even the Faces dared to include a tune named "Crotch Music" on one of their albums.

 
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