Friday, March 09, 2018

Faces - First Step (Wrong Name - "Small Faces" in The US 1970)

Size: 230 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: SHM-CD Limited Remaster
Artwork Included

First Step was the first album by the British group Faces, released in early 1970. The album was released only a few months after the Faces had formed from the ashes of the Small Faces (from which Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan hailed) and The Jeff Beck Group (from which Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood hailed.) The album is credited to the Small Faces on all North American issues and reissues, while record labels for initial vinyl printings give the title as The First Step.

The album cover shows Ronnie Wood holding a copy of Geoffrey Sisley's seminal guitar tutorial First Step: How to Play the Guitar Plectrum Style.

The album was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in London very soon after the group's official formation (although the band members had been performing together in various combinations since April 1969). At 47:13 it is the band's lengthiest original release and many critics regard it as promising, but sprawling and unfocused - their least cohesive and most undisciplined offering. Accordingly the album reached no higher than #119 on the Billboard charts. 

It is perhaps the most democratic of the Faces releases, affording as it does each member of the group at least one composer credit. Highlights include Ronnie Lane's folksy "Stone", the hard-rocking "Shake, Shudder, Shiver", "Three Button Hand Me Down" (on which both Lane and Wood play the bassline, affording the track a unique sonic quality in the Faces catalogue), and the soulful "Flying".

The notorious sloppiness of the Faces was apparent on their debut, almost moreso on the cover than on the music, as the group was stilled billed as the Small Faces on this 1970 debut although without Steve Marriott in front, and with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood in tow, they were no longer Small. They were now larger than life, or at least mythic, because it's hard to call an album that concludes with a riotous ode to a hand-me-down suit as larger than life. That was the charm of the Faces, a group who always seemed like the boys next door made good, no matter where next door was. 

Part of the reason they seemed so relatable was that legendary messiness -- after all, it's hard not to love somebody if they so openly displayed their flaws -- but on their debut, it was hard not to see the messiness as merely the result of the old Faces getting accustomed to the new guys. 

Fresh from their seminal work with Jeff Beck, Rod and Ron bring a healthy dose of Beck's powerful bastardized blues, bracingly heard on the opening cover of "Wicked Messenger," but there's a key difference here; without Beck's guitar genius, this roar doesn't sound quite so titanic, it hits in the gut. 

That can also be heard and Rod and Woody's "Around the Plynth," or "Three Button Hand Me Down," which is ragged rocking at its finest. 

Combine that with Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagan finding their ways as songwriters in the wake of the Small Faces' mod implosion, and this goes in even more directions. Lane unveils his gentle, folky side on "Stone," McLagan kicks in "Looking Out the Window" and "Three Button Hand Me Down." 

All these are moments that are good, often great, but the record doesn't quite gel, yet that doesn't quite matter. 

The Faces is a band that proves that sometimes loose ends are as great as tidiness, that living in the moment is what's necessary, and this First Step is a record filled with individual moments, each one to be savored.

The Album US 1970:
01. Wicked Messenger - 04.07
02. Devotion - 04.56
03. Shake, Shudder, Shiver - 03.14
04. Stone - 05.38
05. Around the Plynth - 05.51
06. Flying - 04.17
07. Pineapple and the Monkey - 04.24
08. Nobody Knows - 04.05
09. Looking Out the Window - 05.01
10. Three Button Hand Me Down - 05.48

Bonus Tracks:
11. Behind the Sun (Outtake) - 05.29
12. Mona - The Blues (Outtake) - 05.05
13. Shake, Shudder, Shiver (BBC Session) - 02.46
14. Flying (Take 3) - 04.41
15. Nobody Knows (Take 2) - 04.42

Rod Stewart Bonus Tracks:
16. Rod Stewart - Good Morning Little Schoolgirl [UK 1964] - 02.09
17. Rod Stewart - I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town [UK 1964] - 02.54
18. Rod Stewart - The Day Will Come [UK 1965] - 02.45
19. Rod Stewart - Why Does It Go On [UK 1965] - 02.47
20. Rod Stewart - Shake [UK 1966] - 02.50
21. Rod Stewart - I Just Got Some [UK 1966] - 03.40
22. Rod Stewart - Little Miss Understood [UK 1968] - 03.38
23. Rod Stewart - So Much To Say [UK 1968] - 03.14

Part 1: Faces
Part 2: Faces
Part 1: Faces
Part 2: Faces
Part 1: Faces
Part 2: Faces


heylee said...

Thank you for the great Faces.

Psychfan said...

Thank you Chris!

Carlos Roa said...

Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

Bloody Yanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry, and thanks for this!

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