The best TV station ever, VH1-Classic is on a roll right now. Over the weekend and throughout this week they’ve been running a series they’re calling “BBC Crown Jewels,” a collection of in-studio concerts aired on the famed British TV channel. If you grab a look, you can see some terrific old Tom Petty footage, a young AC/DC featuring Bon Scott, Lynryd Skynyrd in their prime and The Police in their formative years. Naturally, I Tivo’d them all and I’m working my way through them now.
However, one of the shows thus far has completely lapped the field. The Faces are one of those bands that never generated the commercial sales to really sustain themselves, but their influence is still undoubtedly felt today. Led by a young Rod Stewart, this was an all-star lineup – Ron Wood, Kenny Jones, Ian McLagan and Ronnie Lane also were members, making for a murderers row of ragged, fuzzy and crisp 1970s rock that would sound timely on the radio today, as bands like Jet and Kings of Leon have proved in the past year and as bands like The Black Crowes proved in the ’80s and ’90s. The Faces are the foundation of that sound, rarely duplicated.
The footage that VH1-Classic aired this weekend was from a BBC show called “Sounds For Saturday” and the band is so tight and so good that I found myself in both awe and shame, the latter for having not seen this great, rare footage until now. For those of you who only think about Rod Stewart in his current, post-1975 state (see: utter schlock), you’re in for a mighty surprise, for Rod was an absolute powerhouse prior to that and this footage bears it out.
Mildly unshaven and definitely unsober, Stewart’s showmanship and endless energy abound here. The band is clearly having a blast and it doesn’t matter if they’re drunk – they’re professionals and they can play this stuff fast asleep better than 95% of bands can while they’re awake. The whole hour was so…..concise and dominating. They even took “Maybe I’m Amazed,” spit all over it, and turned it into their song, undressing the shine McCartney put on it and adding their trademark ragged approach. Totally works. They then follow that up with Ike & Tina Turner’s “Turn Me On!” And so on…..and so on. Just marvelous stuff.
Of course, Ron Wood went on to join the Rolling Stones, Kenny Jones joined The Who, Ronnie Lane had a decent solo career and Ian McLagan played with everybody: Springsteen, Dylan, Jackson Browne and many more.
If you want a much better sense of what the The Faces were all about, check out this GooTube video from this show for the slightly overplayed, but kick-ass “Stay With Me.” I think you’ll get the gist. I’ve been a longtime fan of The Faces and never even knew this show existed, so thanks VH1-Classic. It will not be erased from my DVR anytime soon.