Follow TV Tropes


Music / Faces

Go To
Faces in 1970. From left to right: Rod Stewart, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Wood, Ian McLagan, Mickey Mouse and Ronnie Lane.

"Stay with me,
Stay with me,
For tonight you better stay with me"
— "Stay with Me"

Faces are an English Rock & Roll group that formed in 1969, as an offshoot of The Small Faces.

After lead singer Steve Marriott left the band to form Humble Pie, the remaining three members (Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones) joined forces with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood from The Jeff Beck Group. In doing so, they adopted a new sound: raucous, raw-sounding back-to-basics Hard Rock. They quickly gained a reputation as rock and roll wild men, engaging in all sorts of alcohol-fueled hijinks and general tomfoolery (Wood has compared Faces tours to a Marx Brothers movie).

They recorded four very popular albums and released a few hit singles, before encountering some internal dissension, with accusations that Stewart was keeping all of the best new material for his own solo career. Lane, who'd been one of the original founders of The Small Faces, quit in 1973. Tetsu Yamauchi took over on bass, but Lane's songwriting and singing capabilities were missed, and their studio output with Yamauchi was limited to two non-album singles. After an abortive attempt to record a fifth album, the band finally split up for good in 1975, spurred on by Stewart's decision to move to California and Wood making guest appearances with The Rolling Stones (he'd become a full member in 1976). McLagan kept busy as a sideman, including a stint with the Stones, while Jones went on to have one of the most challenging cases of Tough Act to Follow when The Who chose him to replace the late Keith Moon on drums.

Noted for their influence on Punk Rock and Britpop, the group was inactive for over thirty years in spite of several near reunions that never quite got the whole line-up back together. They finally reformed in 2009 with bassist Glen Matlock replacing the late Ronnie Lane (and Bill Wyman, who had been filling in for previous reunions) and lead vocals were handled by Simply Red lead singer Mick Hucknall. Ian McLagan sadly died from a massive stroke on 3 December 2014, but this did not stop a reunion with Rod Stewart from happening in 2015, to wide critical acclaim.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Jesse Ed Davis - guitar (1975, died 1988)
  • Mick Hucknall - lead vocals (2009–12)
  • Kenney Jones - drums, percussion (1969–75, 1986, 1993, 2009–present)
  • Ronnie Lane - bass, guitar, backing and lead vocals, percussion (1969–73, 1986, died 1997)
  • Glen Matlock - bass (2009–11)
  • Ian McLagan - piano, organ, keyboard, harmonium, vocals (1969–75, 1986, 1993, 2009–14, died 2014)
  • Rod Stewart - lead vocals, banjo, guitar (1969–75, 1986, 1993, 2015–present)
  • Ronnie Wood - guitar, vocals, harmonica, bass (1969–76, 1986, 1993, 2009–present)
  • Tetsu Yamauchi - bass (1973–75)

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1970 - First Step note 
  • 1971 - Long Player
  • 1971 - A Nod Is As Good As a Wink... to a Blind Horse
  • 1973 - Ooh La La
  • 1974 - Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners

"I don't need no one's opinion on the matter concerning my Tropes":

  • The Alcoholic: Seemingly a requirement for membership - this was a bunch who hurried through nationally televised live sets in order to make it to last call, after all. Open liquor containers onstage during concerts were common, and they were also known to hand wine bottles out to the audience to pass around.
    • Can't Hold His Liquor: Tetsu Yamauchi, while no stranger to alcohol himself (he'd been in the Artistic Stimulation-heavy Free, after all), tried a little too hard to match the other Faces in this department, downing whole bottles of scotch, and repeatedly went on stage borderline catatonic during his short run with the group. He needed guidance from Stewart to manage the lifestyle.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Kenney Jones was actually one of the more sedate members of the band, but his drumming packed a huge wallop.
  • The Band Minus the Face: They were one of the most successful aversions, since the widespread belief after Steve Marriott left The Small Faces was that the other three couldn't succeed without him, a powerhouse singer and stellar guitarist. Instead, they added Stewart and Wood, who easily equaled him in talent. But the later reunions without Stewart play this trope straight.
  • Berserk Button: You might be a really hot woman, and the song's narrator might be into you, but the minute you say something bad about the "Three Button Hand Me Down" suit he's wearing that his father gave him, forget it.
  • Big Rock Ending: "Stay With Me" is one of the most iconic examples, where they speed up the tempo, repeat the main chord sequence over and over, punctuated by guitar, keyboard and drum fills, then bring it home with a forceful cold ending.
  • Blues Rock
  • Boxed Set: Five Guys Walk Into a Bar... (2004), sequenced by McLagan as though it were a live set list. And 1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything... (2015), which contains all of their studio albums in full along with bonus tracks and an additional disc of singles and other stray cuts.
  • British Rockstar: Alongside such contemporary acts as The Who and Led Zeppelin, they helped to codify this stereotype, especially as it related to Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll (although, while they weren't strangers to other substances, their drug of choice by a wide margin was alcohol) and Hotel Hellion tendencies. They were one of the first bands to start renting out a separate party suite at their hotels.
  • Concept Album: Ooh La La sort of loosely counts with some recurring Gay Paree motifs, starting with the title, and continuing with a picture of the band watching a can-can dancer inside the original vinyl gatefold, the line "At the Moulin Rouge, tell ya baby, we could knock 'em dead" in the opening track "Silicone Grown", and some lines about can-can dancers in the Title Track.
  • Cover Version: A staple of their live sets, many cover songs appear on the Five Guys Walk Into a Bar... Boxed Set.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: A literal example, as Disney apparently made some legal threats over the Mickey Mouse doll on the cover photo for First Step (as seen in the page image). If you look closely, you'll notice Ronnie Lane is wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt too.
  • Downer Ending: Their final album Ooh La La, which mostly contains their trademark rave-ups, closes with the poignant Break-Up Song "Just Another Honky" and the bittersweet title track. All the sadder since they happen to be the final two songs Ronnie Lane wrote for the group.
  • Fake Boobs: "Silicone Grown" is about a woman with these.
    I remember you said
    That we gotta keep abreast of time
    But obviously you don't know where to draw the line
  • Granola Girl: Rita from "Stay With Me" seems to be one.
    Let's go upstairs and read my tarot cards.
  • Greatest Hits Album: The Best of Faces: Good Boys... When They're Asleep.
  • Harsh Vocals: Neither Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane or Ronnie Wood had what you'd call a smooth singing voice, which was part of the their nonchalant charm.
  • Homesickness Hymn: "Richmond", in which Ronnie Lane sings about being in New York and pining for his home borough in London.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "Just Another Honky"
    So you can go if you want to
    I don't own you, go be wild
    Leave my hand, it's wide open
    So's the door, forever more
  • In the Style of: "Pool Hall Richard", their first single after Ronnie Lane's departure, takes a lot of musical cues from Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Instrumentals: The album tracks "Pineapple and the Monkey", "Looking Out the Window", "Jerusalem" and "Fly in the Ointment", plus the B-Sides "Rear Wheel Skid", "Oh Lord I'm Browned Off" and "Skewiff (Mend the Fuse)".
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: "Just Another Honky", a weird invocation of Jive Turkey slang for the Non-Appearing Title of a bittersweet Break-Up Song.
  • Juvenile Hell: "Borstal Boys" is sung by a juvie inmate who hopes he can escape.
  • Live Album: 1974's Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners, which features a mixture of Faces and Rod Stewart solo material along with some cover songs. Surprisingly, given their live reputation, the album was a critical and commercial bomb — except in Japan (the presence of Tetsu Yamauchi on bass might have something to do with that). The 2004 box carries over none of the tracks and recreates most of the songs from other recordings, so it seems McLagan wasn't a fan either.
  • Logo Joke: The typeface on the cover of A Nod is as Good as a Wink... to a Blind Horse is a copy of the typeface used for the old Holiday Inn logo, inspired by the fact that, on their American tours, the band almost always ended up staying at Holiday Inns (which they hated because the hotels were identical and usually not located anywhere near a decent bar).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Ooh La La", a bouncy, bright uptempo tune about disappointment and regret.
  • Meaningful Rename: Upon adding Stewart and Wood as replacements for Steve Marriott, the band decided The Small Faces no longer worked as a band name, since the two new members were fairly tall. Also, with the change in musical orientation, they felt the new band was distinct from the old band, so renamed themselves to Faces. Still, for the American release of First Step, Warner (Bros.) Records insisted on billing them as The Small Faces, feeling that the existing name recognition would help sales.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Devotion", "Around the Plynth", "Nobody Knows", "On the Beach", "Love Lived Here", "Last Orders Please", "Flags and Banners", "Borstal Boys", "Just Another Honky", and several that technically count but the lyrics are merely phrased a little differently from the title.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: In "Stay with Me", the singer begs his one-night stand to treat him this way.
  • Old Man Conversation Song: "Ooh La La" starts off with a grandfather warning his grandson about "women's ways", then ends with the now older grandson doing the same with his grandson.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood, though Wood often got credited as Ron to differentiate the two.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: In its original UK release, Long Player was made up to look like it was an old 78 RPM record in a yellowing sleeve, with a center-cut hole to display the label and Art Deco lettering. Unfortunately, Warner (Bros.) Records in America must not have understood or liked this, so they substituted a similar, but much less interesting, package, made to look like brown leather. The band hated the American cover. American CD versions have tended to use the UK art, but for some reason the You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything box set in 2015 went with the American art.
  • Production Foreshadowing: "You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything" totally sounds like it could be a bright, upbeat Rod Stewart pop song from, say, 1985 or so, maybe even recorded to play over the closing credits of some feelgood Romantic Comedy. Instead, it was the final Faces single, released at the end of 1974.
  • Record Producer: They self-produced their first two albums, which both got criticized for being a bit unfocused. In response they hired the highly respected Glyn Johns, and the two albums he produced were considerably tighter and more organized.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: A considerable part of their stage presence. The Red Onis were Stewart (who would gesture throughout the songs and made picking up the mic stand and holding it sideways his signature stage move) and Lane (who would strut around the stage in his baggy suit, move his arms rhythmically alongside his bass playing, and try to distract Stewart while he was singing). Wood, McLagan and Jones were the Blue Onis who stoically focused on their playing.
  • Reincarnation: "Stone" has the lead singer recalling how his soul took various forms over the years, like rocks, flowers, birds, and so on. It was specifically inspired by the teachings of Meher Baba, who Ronnie Lane (alongside his buddy Pete Townshend) was a devotee of.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Ooh La La" is best known as the end credits theme from 1998's Rushmore. It was also later featured as "Dad's favorite song" in a popular, sentimental Amazon Echo Dot commercial.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: "Too Bad".
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Rod Stewart was the lead singer and frontman, but Ronnie Lane sang lead on at least one track per album, doing three lead vocals on A Nod Is As Good As a Wink... to a Blind Horse.
    • Ron Wood did some backing vocals on a few songs, but got to sing lead on "Ooh La La". Stewart and Lane both attempted vocals on it but producer Glyn Johns didn't find them satisfactory and asked Wood to try it. Stewart and Lane would both record versions of it in their post-breakup careers.
    • Ian McLagan sang the cover of The Beach Boys' "Gettin' Hungry", recorded for their abandoned fifth album and later released on Five Guys Walk Into a Bar.
  • The Team: They all had fairly well-defined personalities. Stewart was The Leader, Wood was The Lancer, McLagan was The Smart Guy, Lane was the Warrior Poet, and Jones was the Cultured Badass (into polo, even).
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Everyone assumes that it's "The Faces", but officially there's no "the".note  This is probably worsened by the fact that they are the successor group to The Small Faces, who did use the definite article.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: They were celebrated for their no-frills rock, but this also applied very literally. Their three most famous original songs ("Stay With Me", "Cindy Incidentally", "Ooh La La") all in fact use just three chords.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Three Button Hand Me Down"
  • Token Minority:
    • Tetsu Yamauchi, who'd moved from Japan to England in the latter part of The '60s and played bass around the London scene for awhile before joining Free, was the very unlikely replacement for Ronnie Lane after his 1973 departure.note 
    • Jesse Ed Davis, a full-blooded Native American from Oklahoma (with ancestry from several tribes), joined as a rhythm guitarist on their final tour in 1975.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Their version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" had Ronnie Lane sing the opening verse, with Rod Stewart taking over after that (with occasional harmonies from Lane).
  • Wanderlust Song: "Cindy Incidentally"
    Oh Cindy, ain't you noticed
    That several of your friends have moved on?
    And the street outside is just a little too quiet
    And your local paper's run out of news?
    I'm not persuading you or disengaging you
    But, Cindy, you and me gotta move
  • We Used to Be Friends: The band's breakup was rooted in tension between Rod Stewart and Ronnie Lane. As Stewart's solo career took off, he started devoting less time to it. He's completely absent from a few of the songs on what would be their last studio album, Ooh La La. This led Lane to feel like he was being pushed to the sidelines, and he quit in 1973. However, Stewart helped pay for Lane's multiple sclerosis treatments in his final years, and did a solo cover of "Ooh La La" as a tribute to Lane after his death.