Most of the posts published here on The Jukebox are (as I hope you will have judged) the result of contemplation, decades of listening history, careful planning and rigorous research. Not this one!
No, today’s post was generated through the mysteries of the algorithms that produce, ‘random’ selections on my Brennan JB7 music system. So, from the very instant that the first notes of, ‘Twisting The Night Away’ by Rod Stewart and The Faces exploded into my consciousness it was clear to me that any plans made for today’s post were null and void!
And, after I had hit the repeat button seven or eight times in a row and reached a state of exhausted elation having danced myself into a virtual stupor I was willing – if not wholly ready and able to write.
So, ‘My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen’ for your pleasure and delight let me transport you back to London in the Summer of 1973 so that you too can joyfully release your inner dolphins (so much better as a phrase for explaining the appearance of abandoned glee than the bare, ‘endorphins’ the physicians and chemists would have me use).
Dr Thom’s Jukebox prescription is that you now turn all your dials up way into the red zone and press play now! Repeat as necessary
In the early 1970s furious intoxicant fuelled arguments raged in bars all over the world when one of the company would muse – ‘Who would you say is the greatest live Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the whole wide world?’
The general view was that the crown was the property of The Rolling Stones but strong counter arguments were made for Led Zeppelin or The Who and some, with a more global perspective, would advance the case for Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Listening sagely, as is my wont, I would agree that the above bands were very fine outfits indeed but then with a glint in my eye, I would add that if I could conjure up one group to appear in a puff of dry ice before our very eyes and play their show right here, right now, none of the previously mentioned could be guaranteed to deliver the righteously raucous; let’s turn this place into the best party you’ve ever had or die in the attempt, good time that Rod Stewart and The Faces were sure to give us.
If I had added top up Tequila to my staple pints of Guinness I would clinch the argument (at least in my mind) by extravagantly miming Rod’s microphone stand gymnastics before adding – which of the other bands could really thrill you one minute, then bring a tear to your eye before making you laugh with sheer uproarious delight the next, like they could?
Now I know that this was a band whose brilliance was a matter of fits and starts dependent on their mood on the night and whether they were liquored up just enough to play freely or so overloaded that they could barely stand up.
But, but, on a good night, and there were scores and scores of those, they made a bloody, bluesy, madly magnificent racket that could lift your spirits in a way no other outfit has ever matched.
Yes, It is true to say that as instrumentalists they weren’t exactly virtuosos but there are times when I don’t want my music to be like a sip of smooth bourbon. I want it to be like a shot of illegally distilled Moonshine, from back in the hills, which you half fear will send you stone blind as you take another hit because it just tastes so damn fine. That’s the kind of music they made.
The Faces – Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane (RIP), Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan (RIP) were to my mind the most glorious gang of vagabonds, rounders and reprobates ever to have taken the stage. They lived the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle to the max and while I’ve never seen a copy of the rider they would have given to promoters of their shows I’d be very surprised if, ‘Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women’ (among other hedonistic delights) didn’t feature very prominently!
I love the way they often sounded like they were falling pell-mell down several flights of very steep stairs; hitting each tread with bone shaking force yet somehow, miraculously, landing pat on their feet as they finally hit bottom ready to set off again for another fantastic foray towards Nirvana!
When you hear them launch into,’Twisting The Night Away’ you hear a band surging with the magical power of true Rock ‘n’ Roll. By the end you will agree with Rod that you sure feel a whole lot better now!
And, if you are anything like me you will firmly believe that the bounds of the earth can’t hold you anymore – if you want to nothing can stop you from sailing straight up into the moonlit sky. Some band! Some band!
I’m going to write much more about Rod Stewart in future posts but I should say here that his early solo albums from 1969’s, ‘An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down’ through to 1974’s, ‘Smiler’ represent one of the most enduringly satisfying bodies of work in the history of post war music.
All his apprentice period gained busking with folk legend Wizz Jones, blues shouting with Steampacket and patrolling the big stages in front of guitar great Jeff Beck allied to his intelligent and sensitive appreciation of soul, country and R&B and the songwriting genius of Bob Dylan and Sam Cooke gave him the experience necessary for him to produce performances from that period which are a rare conjunction of immense popular success and lasting achievement.
Each member of The Faces made their own distinctive contribution to the glories of the overall sound. For me, the key member was Ronnie Lane who provided not just fine anchoring bass but also the earthing heart of the band. The louche guitar of Ronnie Wood and the never let the beat go drums of Kenney Jones synching with the tough when necessary, tender when necessary keyboards of Ian McLagan made a very potent combination.
The Faces best work was only sporadically captured on their albums. Rather, their true testament is to be found on the live sessions they recorded for the BBC; often for their greatest fan and champion the legendary DJ John Peel.
The five years or so Rod Stewart and The Faces were together made for one hell of a ride! We were lucky to have had them.
Time to hit that play button again.