The Faces – Ooh La La
Warner Bros, 1973 (German Pressing)
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
Rod Stewart has always creeped me out. Not only did I hate his voice whenever “Maggie May” would play for the umpteenth time on the classic rock radio station my dad listened to, but when I saw his muppet-esque face on the album covers in the various record collections at various suburban houses, I was doomed to forever wonder WHY anyone would ever want this shriveled-looking man’s body and who would ever find him sexy? It was confusing. The British have an entirely different idea of sexiness, or maybe that’s just the seventies. Mick Jagger has that same withered homeliness and he’s a sex symbol too. Even the Beatles weren’t all that handsome (except for John, of course, and I suppose George if eyebrows are your thing). So as a 12-year-old grappling with the concept of handsomeness and sexiness, I was pretty much in the dark.
Now a bit further down the line, my fierce animosity toward Mr. Stewart has waned to the point of indifference. While I still think “Maggie May” sounds like it was sung by someone who had a whole box of thumbtacks lodged in his throat, I recognize that if anyone else sang that song I’d love it because it’s a great pop song. The hilarious thing about my acceptance of Rod Stewart is that it is linked to my false understanding that he contributed lead vocals to “Ooh La La.” The song most famously plays during the end sequence of Rushmore and upon watching that scene for the dozenth time, I was ready to make amends.
But of course, as I learned, it’s NOT Stewart who sings “Ooh La La,” but guitarist (and future Rolling Stone) Ronnie Wood. Fucking confusing. So now I’m laying into Ooh La La, the last album the Faces produced before tensions between Stewart and Ronnie Lane split the group apart. I’m still pretty indifferent about Stewart, who sings most of the tracks on the album’s first half, but the back half of the album really won me over. The second side features a weird jam-out (“Fly in the Ointment)” and the least irksome Stewart-led songs “If I’m on the Late Side” (despite the last verse implying that Stewart is going to have sex with someone, the sentiment is kind of sweet, but the thought of Stewart having sex with someone just made me wretch a little) and “Just Another Honky” (least irksome because they were penned by Ronnie Lane who’s softer side balances out the upbeat rockers of the album’s first half with the exception of the excellent “Cindy Incidentally” and Lane’s own “Flags and Banners") in addition to “Ooh La La,” but that’s in a class of its own. Lane’s pensive “Glad and Sorry” is my second favorite track on the album, and it’s the one I keep getting up to replay as I listen. Mostly I just nod my head and realize that British music form the 1970s is one of those great, gaping gaps in my musical knowledge that will hopefully be filled in as I get older and more persnickety.
"Ooh La La"
"Glad and Sorry"