Sunday, January 29, 2012

If you like Ryan Adams, thank The Faces

I could write reams about the chameleon-esque tendencies of enigmatic rocker Ryan Adams and the debt he owes to a wide swath of early rock and soul pioneers. (In fact, I did write a very comprehensive review of my favorite of Adams's albums, 2001's Gold. It is still available online here.)

But today, let's talk about a very specific debt Adams owes to Rod Stewart who, along with the rest of the lineup that called themselves The Faces, made four albums that have gone on to influence countless bands that followed, though they were never particularly commercially successful.

The Faces evolved in 1969 from an earlier incarnation called The Small Faces. It was not until they added Stewart and a pre-Rolling Stones Ron Wood to the lineup (and dropped the "Small" from their name) that they really hit their stride. They only released a handful of albums together before Stewart's burgeoning superstardom did them in -- their 1973 album Oooh La La, with its legendary cover art, was their last offering as a group.

But to this day, their influence is undeniable, and can be heard distinctly in at least one of the tracks Ryan Adams laid down on Gold.

Listen first to The Faces' biggest commercial hit, "Oooh La La," paying particular attention to the acoustic guitar lick immediately following the words "Oooh La La," which are finally uttered for the first time toward the end of the song:

Now listen to Ryan Adams sing "Rescue Blues":

You should immediately be able to pick out a very familiar guitar lick, this time played on an electric guitar, but repeated throughout the song like a kind of love letter to The Faces and 1973. The whole album is a love letter to a bygone era and this connection is just one small homage, but it is possibly my favorite moment on the album for its obvious reverence. So, if you like Ryan Adams (this song, at least), thank The Faces.

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