Tag Archives: The Small Faces

T.G.I.F. – Ten For Mac

Ooh La La

I saw Ian McLagan perform last night, and as always, it was magical.

Mac performed in a beautiful little theatre in Cazenovia, NY, to an appreciative throng of fans old and new. Pretty hard not to be converted by this genuine article, who shares stories and jokes in-between renditions of songs from his solo albums and those of two of the best bands in history, The Small Faces and The Faces. On this evening he focused more on solo material, especially his latest release Never Say Never and a couple of songs from his upcoming record. Accompanying Mac was Jon Notarthomas, who weaved on and off the set adding bass lines and harmony vocals; Jon is the bass player in The Bump Band and Mac’s trusted partner on his solo gigs.

Ian McLagan is a very talented songwriter and performer, an astute writer and an accomplished painter. But his greatest quality might be his friendship. Every night Mac makes music, he tells the audience about the late great Ronnie Lane and performs one or more of Lane’s songs. Ronnie Lane might be underappreciated, but as long as Mac walks the earth, he and his music will not be forgotten. (Slim Chance is now carrying the torch again as well).

Fame changes a lot of people, but it’s obvious that Mac’s love for his friend is genuine and pure. When I leave this mortal coil, I would be blessed to have someone speak for my legacy only half as well. Of course, Mac did more than speak – Spiritual Boy is a real gem.

Opening the show were Gary Frenay and Arty Lenin, longtime pop legends from their work in The Flashcubes and Screen Test. Their work as a duo – at one time under the moniker of The Neverly Brothers – is airtight and a songwriter’s showcase. Lenin excels on any style of guitar playing, but as Gary usually plays bass, I forgot how good a guitar player he is as well. Seeing them on a stage in a first-rate theatre with an excellent sound man was a reminder of how lucky I have been to see them so many times. 

Gary, Arty and Jon are all from the Syracuse area and have known each other for decades, and seeing Jon sing lead with them on a cover of “This Boy” was a real treat. And in the interest of editorial fairness, I’ve known them all for years and we’re friends…but that does not diminish the reality of how good they are.

So for this boy, Thursday night was an honor. I saw many old friends I hadn’t seen in years and listened to a couple of hours of great music by favorite performers. Mac is off shortly to play with a reunited Faces, then more overseas solo gigs and the release of another book. If you haven’t seen Ian McLagan, there’s a hole in your life.

So for this week’s TGIF, may I present Ten For Mac!

(01) – “Glad And Sorry

(02) – “Never Say Never

(03) – “Get Yourself Together

(04) – “Little Girl

(05) – “Kuschty Rye

(06) – “Debris

(07) – “All Or Nothing

(08) – “You’re So Rude

(09) – “Little Troublemaker

(10) – “Cindy Incidentally

macspages

official website

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #1

(No TGIF today as we conclude the 2010 countdown…)

When all is said and done, rock’n’roll is supposed to be a release, whether that’s from the pulsating rhythm of the music, the depth of the lyrical message or the sheer enjoyment of playing the damned thing loud. It’s hard enough to compare the apples and oranges of music, but when I was finalizing the list I asked myself… which album brought me the most pleasure? Which did I play the most often? Which did I look forward to playing, even if I had heard it thirty times?

And so I give you Pictures from The Len Price 3.

Video: “Mr. Grey

Recalling the great kinetic music of  The Kinks, The Creation, The Small Faces and the early Who, the trio blends in irresistible pop vocals (think Sire-era Searchers or The Records) and punk energy (The Jam and The Clash being obvious influences). The result is a baker’s dozen of explosive three-minute singles; kudos to the production of Graham Day (The Prisoners, Graham Day and the Gaolers).

The album launches itself with the title track (led by Keith Moon drum fills) and follows that jab with the right cross of the celebretard anthem “Keep Your Eyes On Me“, one of 2010’s absolute classics.

Free Download (while it lasts!): “Keep Your Eyes On Me

By the time I got to the third track, “I Don’t Believe You” I already knew I was gobsmacked…and then it just got better. Music like this is the epitome of what the Underground Garage is going for, so it’s no wonder that Little Steven signed these guys onto his Wicked Cool label. I really liked their first two albums Rentacrowd and Chinese Burn, but Pictures is a leap forward even from those. I had it pegged as a best-of contender when it came out in January, and sure enough,  it held off all comers to finish as the best album of 2010.

Listen to clips at Amazon

Video: “I Don’t Believe You

Len Price 3 on MySpace

The Prisoners heritage is clear

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #7

The Sights’ newest release Most of What Follows Is True might be their best yet, and that’s saying a mouthful. Despite their relatively young age, these garage/pop/blues rockers have distilled the essence of primal garage inspirations like The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Pretty Things with a modern pop sound (many pull out a Supergrass comparison, and that’s not far off).

Video: “Rock and Roll Circus”

But it’s their versatility that slays me. “Guilty” is raucous, guttural rock’n’roll that intimates more horns that it actually contains. “Maria” is music hall crossed with sixties pop – like The Kinks and Small Faces made careers upon; shit, “Tick Talkies” all but has tap dancing in it. “Take and Take” and “How Do You Sleep” (with traces of “Tin Soldier” DNA in it) mine Freakbeat waters, and “Back To You” and “I Left My Muse“? Americana meets garage.

And can they wail? Oh yeah…”Nose to The Grindstone” closes the album with that 60s/70s FM deep track vibe that is so sorely missed today.

Video: “Nose To The Grindstone“.

The Sights are yet one more underrated American band – and from Detroit, mind you – who deserve much bigger and better things. Now a four piece (Eddie Baranek on guitar and vocals, Dave Lawson on bass and vocals, drummer Skip Denomme and Gordon Smith on guitar, keyboards and vocals), they’ve had a few changes over the years including Bobby Emmett, whose solo album was in my top ten last year.  This effort is their first studio album in five years, and it was worth the wait.

All of what follows is true

  • Their albums groove.
  • They’re Nugget-y.
  • You will play them often and loud. 
  • I highly recommend you check out their entire catalogue.

Listen to clips at Amazon.

Enlist in The Sights Army

The Sights on MySpace.

Four guys, totally fab.

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Under The Radar: Rod Stewart??

Yep.

In 2010, The Faces finally reunited after several aborted attempts, subbing Simply Red moptop Mick Hucknall in the Rod Stewart seat and grabbing original Sex Pistol bassist Glen Matlock to stand in for the late, great Ronnie Lane. (Somewhere, Tetsu raised a pint. And then probably a few more…)

In 2010, Rod Stewart released yet another collection of American croooner covers, his fifth, which once again endeared him to housewives, daytime television talk shows and background noise radio. Oh…and probably fattened his wallet by another few million pounds.

Most people who revile the MOR album collections remember Rod as the spiky haired carouser who juggled his own stellar solo career with his stint as lead beverage in The Faces. It was a phenomenal run, albeit a short one, but the influence from Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells A Story and A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse continues to live on in bands from The Black Crowes to The Diamond Dogs. Add in The Small Faces and Paul Weller and you can pretty much trace the genealogy of every Britpop band since then.

While Stewart arguably hasn’t been a viable writer since the early 80s, there was a glimmer of hope eleven years ago, a road flare from the tour bus called When We Were The New Boys. Yes, it was a cover album (except for the title track, an American Pie take on his own career), but the covers were from the likes of Oasis and Primal Scream and Graham Parker…and they rocked! Of course he couldn’t sustain it, but the ballads (including covers of Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith) were done well. as a longtime fan I was excited that he rediscovered his muse. Now twelve years later, I’m still waiting for another sign.

I really have mixed emotions about his cover of “Ooh La La”. He sings it well, although that song will be forever owned by Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane. One could say that it’s a heartfelt nod to his old bandmate, except that…well, his timing sucks. Lane’s battle with MS was painful and long, and he was far from financially solvent thanks to the mountainous bills that illnesses like that generate. Sure would have been nice if Rod would have covered this when he was at the apex of his stadium dates…or if he had gone back on the road with his old mates. Huge royalties and tour money would have made a major impact upon Lane’s options. But no

I don’t hate Rod Stewart. Hell, I don’t even know Rod Stewart. And lord knows what I would do if someone rolled up to me and told me I could make millions of dollars by transforming myself into…well, the highest paid karaoke singer on the planet. I just feel like I’ve watched a guy with once-in-a-generation talent take the easy road rather than push the envelope.

So it’s quite possible that you did miss this blip on the radar, halfway between “Love Touch” and “Fly Me To The Moon”. I heartily recommend that you grab it – I’ll add in my original review if I can find the damned thing – because “Hotel Chambermaid” and “Rocks Off” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and “Ooh La La” are worth the price of admission and then some. And yes, I will hold out hope in my heart that the old rooster has one last hurrah left in him.

If you want to know what all the Rod Stewart fuss was about, try the excellent collection Sessions…or read this.  And if you want to hear a full length tribute to Ronnie Lane, go get Ian McLagan’s wonderful Spiritual Boy (as well as Plonk’s catalogue, of course).

When We Were The New Boys at Amazon.

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Blast From The Past: Peter Frampton

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going to defend Frampton Comes Alive.

You need to look at art two ways – in the context of it’s time, and in the annals of history. As people’s tastes change, media becomes more sophisticated or societal norms morph into new behavior, but created art is static in its created period. In simpler words, some things are timeless; some are not. Not every album can be Blonde on Blonde. But being the right thing at the right time does have its value, whether you want to admit it or not.

Rockin’ The Fillmore, Humble Pie’s classic live album, was a fixture on my turntable and my radio show. And having watched Humble Pie grow from the ashes of The Small Faces (whose other offshoot, The Faces, are second only to The Kinks in my heart), I hated the split of Peter Frampton and Steve Marriott, although both survived and flourished afterwards.

Long before earbuds, enjoying albums was a much more organically communal experience. Suzie and I spent a lot of time together listening to records and going to concerts; we enjoyed each others’ company and our tastes seemed to align pretty closely. Being young and rootless, that translated into attending a lot of concerts and many long nights sharing our thoughts about favorite bands, songs and lyrics.

I don’t remember which of us dropped the needle on the solo Frampton album first, but Suzie and I were both on board pretty quickly. It wasn’t the lyrics – in fact some of the early solo songs sound pretty silly – but the mood of the albums was intoxicating, almost made for late night decompressing. There were gems galore – “Plain Shame”, “White Sugar”, “Doobie Wah”, “Money”, “Lines on My Face” – and he seemed as comfortable in an acoustic jam as he was making the Marshalls bleed.

He lit “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on fire. He took a Stevie Wonder tune and reinvented it. We liked Winds of Change and Frampton’s Camel even more, but  I think Something’s Happening is the one that did it for us. “Magic Moon” and “Sail Away”, the two closing tracks, were that perfect combination of rock and trippy jam music that would encourage you to replay side two. And then the simply titled Frampton seemed to reinforce that the AOR steamroller was staring to pick up speed.

And then all hell broke loose with Frampton Comes Alive.

How the hell did our little secret suddenly create the biggest rock record of the year? Hell, how were there so many people who knew enough of the songs that they could recognize them in three notes and then sing along? We didn’t have Twitter or email; we thought we were alone in our devotion. First radio played this record…constantly. And then more. And then even more. Until even those of us who liked it didn’t want to hear it ever again.

But it’s time to forgive.

Sorry, but there are great songs here. “It’s A Plain Shame” and “Something’s Happening” explode, re-arranged for a huge stage presentation (as were most of the tracks). “All I Want To Be Is By Your Side” and “Winds of Change” were even stronger and rocked harder. Even “Baby I Love Your Way” milked an irresistable hook and an island flavor. “Penny For Your Thoughts” is a spirited acoustic instrumental workout. And yes, even though it’s hard to listen to for the one millionth time, when that talk box punctuated “Do You Feel Like We Do”, you turned the damned thing up as loud as I did.

So with this album he gave it all to you – the early Humble Pie folkiness, the latter-Pie rawk, the introspective stuff from his solo albums and tunes so instantly ear-candy you hate them more for being overplayed than you do for the songs themselves. You knew he was a great guitar player and a good singer, but he trumped that by capturing the electricity of a live show on vinyl.

And then you turned on him. You hated that stupid talk-box guitar effect. You hated that ludicrous cover photo (and limp title track) on I’m In You. You really hated Frampton for participating in Sgt. Pepper. I get it.

But it’s time to let go, people. I’m not saying I want to pull out Frampton Comes Alive at a party in 2010. In fact, were I to pull out some Frampton albums, I’d probably grab those first four solo records rather than this arena-friendly presentation. But to continue to trivialize FCA today is like making fun of your old monochrome XT computer. It was meant for 1976, and in 1976 it delivered in spades.

It set the bar for what live albums would become for a long, long time. It re-legitimized the fact that a live record could be a hit and warrant airplay. And it also taught future musicians a very valuable lesson about how fickle the audience can be, especially when you stop listening to your muse and start trying to create what you think the audience wants.

Go back and give it another spin. And check out those first four albums, one per year, that planted the seeds that suddenly morphed into the mighty oak that defined the year in rock, 1976.

By the way, Frampton is still kicking ass at sixty years young.

Listen to the original version

Listen to the expanded edition.

Frampton’s webpage and Wiki.

FCA at AllMusic.com

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Blast From The Past: Humble Pie

Road Warriors of Rock'n'Roll

Road Warriors of Rock'n'Roll

I remember playing cuts from Rock On and Rockin’ The Fillmore as a college radio DJ, and the several Humble Pie shows I was blessed to witness are seared into my brain. And witness is an operative verb here; while the early shows were piledriver blues/boogie rock’n’roll, in his later years Steve Marriott was part rocker, part white soul singer, part rock evangelist. At the time it was probably the closest thing to having a gospel preached at me and to me since the I stumbled into a Baptist church.

But back in the early Pie days, when Peter Frampton played and sang alongside Steve, they were a bit more straight-ahead. Determined to break and break big, they toured incessantly in the States and lit arena after arena on fire. For a couple of years in the early 70s, it was far more likely you’d hear Humble Pie blasting out of dorm windows than the latest Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin cut. America loves their meat and potatoes, and Humble Pie was meaty.

Looking back at BBC tracks from famous 70s bands is always fascinating and Humble Pie is no exception. While not a purely focused disc – leave it to Fuel 2000 to license rather than create – there is some great music within. Here’s what I wrote about Natural Born Boogie release for PopMatters back in 2000:

Steve Marriott Boy Howdy

Like the blues players he idolized, Steve Marriott may finally be getting his due after he’s no longer here to reap the rewards. Bands like The Black Crowes openly admit his influence, while a waft of inferior vocalists trying to emulate him prove that his talents are sorely missed. Marriott had the fortune to shine in two majestic bands early in his career, and both The Small Faces and Humble Pie are enjoying a new wave of popularity as classic radio vaults open wider.

Although Rockin’ The Fillmore will stand as their definitive concert recording, Humble Pie did cut several solid sessions for BBC One between 1969 and 1971. “Natural Born Boogie“, the band’s Chuck Berry-flavored hit, finds Marriott in great vocal tone, while “The Ballad Of Shakey Jake” boasts some guitar noodling that would bring a smile to the face of any Deadhead. Fluid and creative, Peter Frampton, still years away from his megastar status, is the perfect axe partner for Marriott’s more bar-blues approach. Ex-Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley and (then) teenage drum whiz Jerry Shirley flow from folk to rock as easily as their more famous counterparts. Consider their take on the Buddy Holly chestnut “Heartbeat”; heavier and blusier than the original, but not so cool that they couldn’t slap some handclaps in there too. And in “Desperation” we see the worm turning as Mod Steve starts to establish his soul roots with the band.

The later sessions (1970-71) are probably closer to the Humble Pie most people are familiar with. “Big Black Dog” is as close to “Walkin’ The Dog” in structure as it is in name, and “Four Day Creep” (perhaps the highlight here) is close to the album cut. “Rolling Stone” is an abbreviated version of the one on Rockin’ The Fillmore (thankfully), while “The Light” lets Frampton get a parting shot in before leaving. The final two tracks are from the Old Gray Whistle Test, and while “Black Coffee” (complete with The Blackberries on vocals) sounds great, “I Don’t Need No Doctor” is horrible.

In fairness, the CD cover contains a disclaimer that the sound quality on the tenth cut is very poor, but even with those expectations it sounds like a fifteenth generation bootleg tape. Recorded underwater. Left on the dashboard in the summer with the windows rolled up tight. Chewed on by the dog. Am I making this clear enough? Sure, the band smokes the tune, but are you telling me there was no other version, or other cut — of ANYTHING — available? Considering that “Doctor” was the cornerstone of Rockin’ The Fillmore, there is no reason under the sun that this should have been included here. Did the songwriters really need the royalties that badly?

And sure, the liner notes could have been more expansive, and some proofreader should have known the difference between Brian Jones and Mick Jones, but you can’t have everything. Since Steve isn’t around to thrill us with new music, having treasures like these get cleaned up and sent our way is something we should be thankful about. Well, nine out of ten times, anyway.

Humble Pie old

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