Album: The Faces

Five Guys Walk Into a Bar, WARNER BROS / RHINO
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The Independent Culture

Few bands personified the Anglo-American spirit of rock'n'roll with quite the gusto of The Faces. It would be hard to find a British group whose music sounded as naturally American as theirs, steeped in raw R&B soul with a dash of cajun/country ripeness, courtesy of Ronnie Lane; yet - for all of Rod Stewart's tartan roots - they were the most quintessentially English of bands too, their cheeky cockney-sparrer demeanour in effect a pop-era extension of the music-hall tradition. They were like the Stones' runty younger brothers, scallywags larking around getting pissed in some East End pub while the Stones were ensconced in a womb of velvet and smack up West. But while that mood of tipsy mischief brought a lovable louche swagger to their performances, it also denied their material any real depth - their songs are all about laddish encounters with the ladies, and saucy scrapes. Hence this four-CD set, lovingly compiled by Ian McLagan, draws heavily on the unreleased live stuff, peppering the hits and album cuts with more than 30 tracks from concerts, rehearsals and BBC sessions, with a complement of covers. The result is a testament to a time when bands formed not as a career move, but to Have Them a Real Good Time. As MacLagan puts it in his sleevenote, "We had no direction, just influences." Well, it seemed to work for them.