I read a theory once that all good music either comes from the heart, or the balls*, if that’s true then the Faces A Nod Is As Good As a Wink … To a Blind Horse, is definitely a gift from the orbs below. It’s all the better for it too.
Miss Judy, she was moody
Owned a sweaty farm in old Alabam
I was just eighteen, crude and mean
All I needed was to get my own way
Just listen to the fabulous, churning strut of opener ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’, arguably it’s far more of a sound and a performance, than a song; but what a sound! It just struts out of your speakers all throbbing, cocky and manly. If you were going to handle this song then you’d be best advised to use protective gloves, because it is pretty darn filthy. The band sound perfect right out of the gate, Stewart’s scorched machismo igniting the whole thing, Ron Wood’s guitaring is heavy and insistent, the rhythm section change it around dexterously, but as always on this album I’m left marvelling at how great Ian McLagan is, whether riffing behind the guitar or adding washes of colour, his every touch increases the whole.
We go straight from that gutter into the jaunty, cheeky ‘You’re So Rude’ and its tale of makings out and interruptions. Again, I really like it all the frantic fumbling and trying to find some privacy being a lot more fallible and human than the tomcat strutting elsewhere here. I’ll skip ‘Love Lived Here’, despite its almost perfect sound it isn’t much of a song, more of a blueprint for a thousand less-inspired ballads of longing. Do I need to tell you how great McLagan is again on this one? ‘Last Orders Please’ has a certain boozy, woozy conversational charm too but was never going to be a reason to come back to the LP,
Well, well, hello and how are you?
Fancy seeing you here.
Don’t let it show.
No look, no one must know
Why! They’re playing “Tracks Of My Tears”
No-one could say the same of ‘Stay With Me’, which is precisely the reason I bought A Nod Is As Good As a Wink …, I suspect I may not have been the first, or last punter to do so either. I’m really not a Rod Stewart fan at all, I tend to think of him as a ‘daft old sod’ if at all, so it does me good to hear this one every so often, his cracked, post-coital sneer is just the ticket here. Especially when you team it with that riff and a spiteful set of lyrics,
Won’t need to much persuadin’
I don’t mean to sound degradin’,
But with a face like that you got nothin’ to laugh about.
Red lips, hair and fingernails,
I hear you’re a mean old Jezebel
Lets go up stairs and read my Tarot cards
Occasionally I catch what I’m singing along to, stop myself but inevitably start again. I’m not sure what that does for my self-avowedly feminist credentials but I tend to give myself a bye where ‘Stay With Me’ is concerned, I can’t help it** – it impacts me on a testicular level, ouch! Rock of the sleazy barroom variety doesn’t get an awful lot better than this, hey maybe music itself doesn’t.
‘Debris’ that opens side 2 has the sincerity and feel that ‘Love Lived Here’ misses, Is it sung by Ronnie lane? I’m not sure. Either way it’s a great song and I can’t really work out what it is about either, aching and regretful though it is, which I rather like. The Faces’ cover of ‘Memphis’ is fun enough, but insubstantial enough to go down as a misstep whereas the original is, in my not-very-humble opinion, one of the best songs ever written^. From there we’re back into blissful sloppiness with ‘Too Bad’, which is basically an undemanding good time with the band firing on all cylinders, sounding like the Stones had forgotten how to – fun. A Nod Is As Good As a Wink … really finishes with a bang with the aptly titled ‘That’s All You Need’ which careers up the track, courtesy of the best guitar I’ve ever heard from Ron Wood, in the middle of the track he tears it up like Jimmy Page at his best, it really is that great^^.
Balls out all the way then.
The band sound great all the way through, I know John Peel said they played the best gig of his life and the Faces would definitely be one of my time machine bands to go see live. Glyn Johns and the band deserve huge kudos for the production too which is warm and immediate throughout. There really is a lot to love about A Nod Is As Good As a Wink …, the fact that they took one of my granddad’s favourite phrases and turned it into an LP title for one and secondly that the original came with a fantastically ill-judged (but, one feels, totally honest!) poster featuring an enormous collage of pills and groupies; bear in mind that this LP was their second of 1971, which also featured their singer’s enormous success with Every Picture Tells A Story, which most of the Faces also played on, it was almost as though they were fuelled on something illicit…
What a band! What balls! What an LP!!
*so much for women then; well, apart from Wayne County maybe. I didn’t say I agreed with the theory.
**see also large chunks of early AC/DC’s back catalogue and that one Rhino Bucket song I like so much. Hell, even the Manic Street Preachers covered it, brilliantly on the B-side of She Is Suffering as a tribute to their late manager.
^although the Silicon Teens ludicrously plastic version is pretty great:
^^I’m skipping the fact that it then calms down and even introduces a steel drum, it’s brilliant for at least 4 minutes, that’s all I need.