the lineup promises.
They are slick, playing tight changes and neat licks all the way through the record. McLagen's organ work is competent, more so than many better-known rock organists, and Ron Wood's guitar playing is economical and fluid. Though he played with Jeff Beck on bass, Wood has done sessions with Donovan (among others) as a guitarist and has recorded with a group called Santa Barbara Machine Head. He is far more proficient than he is thrilling; nowhere on the album does he play with any abandon.
Rod Stewart, on the other hand, sings his butt off. His raspy, sore throat voice lends itself well to the Faces' music. But Stewart's value lies in his unpredictability. His phrasing and delivery are filled with the unexpected.
The songs on the album are varied and come from all kinds of places. They do Dylan's "Wicked Messenger" with a bland but precise arrangement. Lane wrote and sang a funky traditional-type folk song ("Stone") featuring Stewart on banjo, Wood on harp and himself playing guitar. "Around the Plynth" is a fine bottleneck workout for Ron Wood. Unfortunately, stereo "effects" on this number almost ruin it. "Pineapple and the Monkey," a Ron Wood instrumental composition, would sound exactly like Booker T. if it weren't for the tone of the guitar.
The Small Faces play with more control than soul. They know exactly what they are doing and they do it well, as good musicians should, but the precision and purity of their sound seems a little sterile, and they lack the drive and power to make their music work without subtleties. (RS 59)