Album Review: The Faces “Good Boys…When They’re Asleep” (1999)


Formed in 1969 out of the remnants of the Small Faces, The Faces are one of the forgotten bands of the 1970s appearing it seems in the shadow of the likes of The Stones and The Who. The band was made up of ex-Small Faces Ronnie Lane (bass), Kenny Jones (drums) and Ian McLagan (keyboards), and ex-Jeff Beck Group members Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Rod Stewart (vocals). As a band they were together until 1975, releasing four studio albums and touring widely, whilst gaining a reputation as heavy partiers and boozers, I guess it was the 70s after all.

The band’s style was very much rock and roll derived and is often labeled as boogie rock; however, their sound also contained soul, R&B, and even folk influences. The band’s sound relied heavily on the brilliant individual talents of the members, musicians who were great players in their own right and who are often overlooked on those greatest players of all time lists in favor of more recognizable or fancier names. The key aspects of The Faces sound included the very tight rhythm section of Jones and Lane, with the underrated Lane’s heavy rolling bass lines holding the bottom end of the sound together. He was very much a lead bass player. Ronnie Wood who being the only guitarist got the chance to show off his talent more than he would in The Stones, and in doing so proved how good a guitarist he is with some amazing solos and slick rhythm playing. I wasn’t going to mention Rod, but his soulful vocals are a key component and not to be overlooked. In fact, in my opinion, he sounds far and away better vocally in this band than he did as a solo artist, this could be largely to do with the calibre of musicians he was playing with, as well as the sharing of songwriting duties with Lane and Wood leading to a more diverse range of styles to play with as a vocalist.

This brings me to the album. The compilation Good Boys… When They’re Asleep was released in 1999 and is a true representation of The Faces sound and career. Everything that is worth hearing is on here including all their best tracks as well as some lesser-known songs. The highlights for me include the boogie rock of “Had Me a Real Good Time” and “Miss Judy’s Farm”, the soul balladry of “Love Lives Here” and the country/folk-tinged “Debris” and “Glad and Sorry” which both feature the Harrisonesque Ronnie Lane on vocals. Across the nineteen tracks, you get a good indication of the band’s boogie laden sound, while the moments when they delved into other areas namely folk and soul are also on display showing that they weren’t just a one-trick pony.

This is a great compilation of a great band and represents to me what a compilation should be, not a greatest hits collection but a best of taking in all their good moments hit or otherwise. Too many compilations, in my opinion, are just loaded up with hits or recognizable songs often at the expense of lesser-known but just as good material. Luckily this release doesn’t fall into that trap and is a thorough representation of the artist on show. This compilation is a must-have for anyone who wants to get into one of the great 70s British bands. I would also recommend it for Stones and Who fans and those into British rock because if you haven’t listened to The Faces yet you are missing out on a real treat.


– Sam


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