“Long Player” (1971)
Like Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, they sometimes were referred to as Rod Stewart and the Faces by those without a rock ‘n’ roll clue.
But “Long Player” (along with the group’s three other recently reissued studio albums) is rock-solid evidence that the Faces were very much a full-fledged band, not merely a bunch of back-up musicians for an increasingly popular singer. Indeed, there’s a rowdy, devil-may-care quality to “Long Player” that is never quite as evident on Rod the Mod’s more acclaimed solo discs from the same period (1971 also saw the release of Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story”). Before their six-year career came to a close in 1975, the Faces had forged a well-earned reputation for boozy-woozy behavior both on and off stage.
Certainly, one couldn’t call “Long Player” slick and overproduced: Such spirited numbers as “Bad ‘N’ Ruin” feel like they were written and recorded during a late-night beer bash. The hotblooded, aptly titled “Had Me a Real Good Time” shifts gears midway through so the lads can wind things up with a rousing instrumental exchange that includes a blaring sax workout by Stones’ stalwart Bobby Keys. Guitarist Ron Wood (now a longtime member of the Stones) and keyboard player Ian McLagan were also given ample space to get their ya-ya’s out. But make no mistake: This nine-track album supplies plenty of quality songs to learn and sing, including a choice slice of acoustic blues by Ronnie Lane called “Richmond” and a spruced-up concert version of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” And it’s doubtful that Stewart ever delivered a more elegant ballad than “Sweet Lady Mary.”
Unavailable for more than 10 years in the United States, “Long Player” finally is receiving a long overdue second life.