A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse | Faces | 1971 | Warner Bros | #361
Before the band Faces formed there was Small Faces, who disbanded when the singer walked off stage during a show because he was fed up with the band’s pop image and inability to live-perform their recently recorded and critically acclaimed psychedelic rock album. So the surviving members decided to recruit Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart from the Jeff Beck group and reform as just Faces.
A Nod Is As Good As a Wink… is 70s boogie rock with very slight elements of heavier, experimental groove rock. It’s a massive shame that it’s not the other way around, because in the blissful moments where Rod Stewart shuts up and lets the band get on with it we get a taste of the proficiency of its musicians as they fill their boots. There are moments where the drums and fretless bass (Ronnie Lane) are locked-in and you get a timely, bluesy slide guitar or keyboard solo – such as in “Memphis, Tennessee” – which I like to think came about through improvised jam sessions where they just happened to be recording.
But the illusion is all too frequently shattered by Rod’s irritating presence. He butts in at all the wrong moments to “grace” us with another one of his verses, or some tediously joyful ad libbing as if to try to let us know they’re all having a party in the recording studio. Every time he does it feels like it drags the song back into pop territory and as such loses its appeal for me. That’s really the story of this album – quality in places, Rod Stewart in others.