Faces - A Nod Is As Good As A Wink ... To A Blind HorseMore than anything else, A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … to a Blind Horse is an album that reminds us. It reminds us of the great songwriter, singer, bass player, and overall beautiful spirit Ronnie Lane, and how much we miss him. Ronnie’s greatest song, “Debris,” is here. This tender tune that he wrote for his father never fails to move me, and when Rod joins in on that bridge, the whole thing becomes simply transcendent.

If we need reminding, here is the proof that at his best, Rod Stewart was the greatest rock vocalist of his time. Any number of performances here will confirm that. Ronnie Wood was once a stellar guitar player. Listen to his slide work on “That’s All You Need” if you don’t believe me. Ian McLagan, bless his heart, was, and is, one of the the premier keyboard players on the planet. Oh, and we’re reminded of what was once good about radio. After all, the rollicking “Stay With Me,” Faces’ biggest hit, got tons of airplay. Can you imagine that happening today given the restrictive nature of commercial radio playlists? Not bloody likely.

A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … is not just about memory. It’s about music too, the music made by a consistently underrated band. To some degree they have themselves to blame for not becoming the megastars they could have been, should have been. Faces seemed to prefer the role of good-time band at the pub down the block to stadium rockers. Their music, however, tells a different story. A Nod Is as Good as a Wink … is the third of the four Faces albums, the second that they released in 1971, and it presents the band doing all the things that they did best, from the rocking boogie of the opener, “Miss Judy’s Farm,” to the tender, whiskey-soaked ballad “Love Lives Here.”

Ian McLagan, Ronnie Wood, and drummer Kenney Jones got together for some shows in London last year, and now there is talk of a tour. Rod Stewart won’t be joining them, preferring to spend the time promoting his latest oldies covers album, and of course Ronnie Lane is irreplaceable. Usually the reunion of a band that’s missing key members holds very little interest for me. But to see the remaining Faces play these songs is something I’m actually pretty excited about.