Following up just a bit more on my trip to Austin last week, I wanted to feature something with Ian McLagan, the keyboard legend who was a major part of the Small Faces and then a co-founder of the Faces, playing alongside Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, and Kenney Jones, and who played with the Rolling Stones and many other artists along the way. For something like 30 years, McLagan has lived in Austin, having followed the late Ronnie Lane there when Lane had withdrawn from the rock spotlight. These days McLagan plays with his band, “the Bump Band,” doing a weekly (and free!) happy hour gig at the Lucky Lounge in Austin every Thursday. He’s still as talented as ever — don’t assume this to be a case of a once-great musician fallen on hard times. He gives every indication of loving what he’s doing — you won’t see too many rock ‘n’ rollers smile half as much as McLagan. It’s hard to imagine too many other places where you can be entertained by a legend for free on a weekly basis, and not have to fight for standing room. If you’re in Austin on a Thursday, don’t miss the opportunity to see the 2-hour show (6 to 8 p.m.).
On the short list of bands that I would give anything to be able to go back in time and see live, the Faces would be very near the top. They were an incredibly great band, the epitome of loose and loud, yet (usually thanks to Lane) insightful as well. Despite their reputation as hard-drinking and raucous, they sounded loose not because they weren’t playing in time, but rather, conversely, because they were such great musicians that worked so well together they could relax and let the music flow without necessarily being in lock step. And Ian McLagan was in many ways the glue that held the rest of them together: his piano and organ playing expertly filled in the spaces between the two Ronnies, allowing them freedom to get “sloppy.” The Faces were a big influence on Britain’s pub rock scene, which in turn played a big part in the development of punk, which has led to much much more — so without the Faces, today’s music might very well have sounded a lot different.
The Faces song I’ve chosen for today is “Cindy Incidentally,” from their final studio album, Ooh La La, which came out in 1973. It’s one of their songs co-written by McLagan, who usually contributed to the writing of a couple of great songs per album (this one was with Stewart and Wood). McLagan performed it last Thursday at the Lucky Lounge show, and he sounded nearly as good singing it 40 years later as Stewart did originally — and his keyboard playing still sounds fantastic. So I think I’m safe checking the show off as being as close to seeing the Faces live as I could ever have the chance.