While producer Glyn Johns would wring sparkling magic from the performances, just as he did with Nod, it was Stewart’s absence during the earliest sessions for Ooh La La that rankled his bandmates. Ronnie Lane rose to the occasion during these sessions, turning in superb compositions filled with vivid imagery and epic emotion. Introduced by a ghostly guitar fragment from Wood, and flowing on superb melancholic melodies, “Just Another Honky,” a bittersweet ode to love ignored and love lost, stands the test of time not only as a Faces classic, but also as a testament to Lane’s enduring place as a rock-era songsmith. The title track, a Lane/Wood composition, conveys the reality of hard lessons learned too late, and perhaps too often. With a spirited and ragged vocal delivery from Wood, the track builds against a rolling country-tinged backing. Equally powerful is the Stewart-Wood-McLagan collaboration, “Cindy Incidentally.” Featured on the box set in its LP incarnation, as well as a fun alternate take, this should-have-been hit gallops along to memorable interplay between Wood’s rough riffing and McLagan’s smooth piano phrasings.
Mac explains that “Cindy Incidentally” began with a piano lick. “Really I’m trying to play [Chuck Berry’s] ‘Memphis’ backwards. There’s a version that I found of it off a cassette that when listening to it I realized, this is more of a groove. It’s the same take, it’s just that the original tempo was slower; and Glyn Johns, or somebody, sped it up into more of a single. Do you know what I mean? I play ‘Cindy’ with my band all the time and I now play it with the slow tempo. It’s just much more of a groove. The reason that there’s two versions [on the box set] is that Ronnie Lane put a vocal line on the first bridge. He didn’t put it on the second. It’s just an idea. And I have a tape from that night and it never got used, but it’s really sweet.”
Shortly before Ooh La La’s release in spring 1973, Stewart soured relations in the band by trashing the record in England, in what he claimed were off-the-record statements to a Melody Maker reporter. Ronnie Lane, the man whose elfin exuberance defined the true soul of the Faces, grew increasingly disillusioned by Stewart’s snowballing visibility as a solo performer, to the detriment of the band’s solidarity. Sensing the growing distance emerging in the band, it was only a matter of time before Lane would announce his departure in pursuit of greater solo success.
Lane’s departure, however, was not amicable. Before a performance in Roanoke, Virginia, in May, 1973, Lane announced backstage that he was leaving the band. This moment precipitated a violent row between McLagan and Lane that carried its way onto the stage and off again.
“There was no send-off party [for Lane],” Mac recalls. “It was ugly. We didn’t want to speak to him. I mean, there’s a picture in [the official live release, Coast to Coast/Overture and Beginners] of the four of us sitting around a table [drunk and unhappy]. It got more and more bloody horrible towards the end. I kicked him off the stage at one point, God bless him!”
Mac confirms that Lane’s creative input, or, more accurately, the lack of the reaping of the fruits of same, was the source of Lane’s growing anger: “[He] was the most prolific songwriter in the Faces; and when he found out, when he realized all these songs he was writing, [he figured] he wasn’t gonna get to sing any of them onstage. That’s why he left. I only discovered this as I was writing liner notes for the box set, [it] never occurred to me before. I actually thought, well I’m talking about him being the most prolific songwriter and I thought, well, I should find out if that’s strictly true. I went through all the albums and added it up, and he was by far the most prolific songwriter. That’s why he had to leave.”
By the end of 1973, Lane quickly moved on with his interest in his mobile recording facilities, and in an ambitious, if financially disastrous, circus-themed touring act, Ronnie Lane’s Passing Show. With his band, Slim Chance, he proved that his songwriting talents post-Faces were as strong as ever. As reported in the box set’s liner notes, Lane described his departure from the band in this way: “I got pissed off in the end, because I felt I was contributing a lot, more than other factions of the band…[t]he whole band was built around Rod, and Rod wasn’t there one hundred percent.”
Japanese-born Tetsu Yamauchi, a veteran of Free's final line-up, was quickly roped into the Faces as the replacement for Lane. A technically qualified bass player, Yamauchi couldn’t rekindle the music sparks of old, although he did (despite a language barrier) manage to keep up the band’s reputation for anarchic chemical merriment. This final line-up of the band would soldier on another two years without a new album. Nevertheless, the band would tour the world, thrilling audiences not only in America, but also in Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong. They would also turn in some fine singles, notably the rowdy rocker “Pool Hall Richard” and the soaring pop declaration “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, or Anything.”
In 1975, Wood would commit his guitar and touring duties to both the Rolling Stones and the Faces. There had been a strongly held view for some time by various rock observers that the Faces could possibly supplant the Stones for world-reigning rock combo status. The interaction and friendship between Stones’ guitarist and elegant wastrel Keith Richards and Ron Wood were certainly well-known in the industry, promoting rumors of possible split-ups in both bands as early as 1973. As reported by New Musical Express in June of that year: “Rumors circulating this week, suggesting that Keith Richards is leaving the Stones, were vehemently denied by Mick Jagger. The story seems to have emanated from LA, where [longtime Stones’ keyboardist] Nicky Hopkins reportedly told a US rock writer that Richards had been ousted by Jagger, who was seeking Ronnie Wood of the Faces as a replacement.” In point of fact, by 1974, Wood and Richards took to frequent jam sessions. In September 1974, when Wood’s solo album I’ve Got My Own Album To Do (a title purportedly finding its origins in Rod Stewart’s insistence that his own solo recording obligations superseded those of the Faces) was released, it boasted an appearance from not only Richards, but also from the Stones’ second guitarist, Mick Taylor. Richards also managed to guest on stage at the Faces last major performance in the UK before Christmas 1974.
There was seemingly little time for Wood to catch a breath from the Rolling Stones summer ’75 tour as he joined the Faces for a fall tour of the United States that would include the addition of a new guitarist, Jesse Ed Davis, into the line-up. With the entire proceedings moving along under the heading of a Rod Stewart "and" the Faces tour, fissures in the band’s makeup could no longer be denied. Stewart was now clearly a major international solo star, and any future undertakings with the group would place his bandmates under Stewart’s daunting shadow. When the tour wound up in Minneapolis in November, there was seemingly little to hold the band together. In mid-December, Rod Stewart called a London press conference to announce that it was all over. The Faces were done. Stewart would be forming a new group. “I opened the Daily Mirror over a cup of tea one morning and read the headline, ‘Faces Break Up,’” Mac reported in All the Rage. “He should have called to prepare Kenney and me, but he didn’t consider our feelings at all. Reading it in the morning paper over breakfast was a big blow.”
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