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Critic's Pick: The Faces, '1970-75: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything

Critic's Pick

The Faces

1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything

The five discs making up 1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything tell the full recorded story of the rock 'n' roll circus known as The Faces. During the six years represented on this box set, the band became known as much for its touring debauchery as its music. Never mind it gave the world one of its most enduring rock celebrities or the Rolling Stones their longest-serving lead guitarist. The Faces always seemed to make headlines for good humor and bad behavior. Take in the glorious music on these discs, though, and you will experience what a giddily soulful rock enterprise the band was.

As the name suggests, The Faces grew out 1960s popsters The Small Faces. The first disc in You Can Make Me Dance, 1970's First Step, is even credited to The Small Faces. But a different sound was already in place. In place of previous pop psychedelia was a raunchier blues grind with mainstay keyboardist Ian McLagan now at the forefront along with new guitar recruit Ron Wood and an emotively coarse singer by the name of Rod Stewart.

First Step and 1971's Long Player balanced pub-friendly folk-rock reveries and boisterous British blues-soul. Small Faces holdover Ronnie Lane split vocal duties with Stewart, offering further dimension to an already vast stylistic repertoire. Lane's Stone (from First Step) and Richmond (from Long Player) are two of You Can't Make Me Dance's great delights. Both showcased an alternate presence within The Faces that always remained in the shadows as Stewart's pop stardom loomed.

The Faces' epic hour was 1971's A Nod is as Good as a Wink... to a Blind Horse, a brawl of a record that made the Stewart-led Stay With Me a hit only two months after Maggie May established the singer's solo career.

The forgotten chapter, though, was Lane's swansong Faces work, 1973's Ooh La La and its epic, folk-ragtime infused title tune (which became a minor hit for Stewart decades later). A summation disc rounding out You Can Make Me Dance called Stray Singles and B-Sides, is exactly that — a platter of enticing scraps, some of which (like the boxed set's title tune) were cut after Lane's departure.

By late 1975, The Faces were history. Stewart moved to America, Wood joined the Stones, drummer Kenney Jones eventually joined The Who and McLagan became a noted session player (he played Lexington last fall a mere six weeks before his death from a stroke).

What You Can Make Me Dance captures isn't so much the history of a band but the feel of an era. It's the sound of rock 'n' roll forged with rootsy abandon, spirit and instinct. And yes, it will most assuredly make you dance.

Walter Tunis | Contributing Music Critic

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