The Faces were on perilous ground in 1973. The recordings of their fourth studio album Ooh La La was difficult, and the emergence of Rod Stewart‘s successful solo career did little to quell the fiery discourse. Stewart doesn’t appear in any capacity on three of the album’s ten songs, causing band members Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood to step in on the tracks ‘Flags and Banners’ and ‘Ooh La La’, respectively.
Stewart had maintained a parallel solo career since the very beginning of the band. When the Small Faces lost Steve Marriot to Humble Pie, Stewart jumped ship from the Jeff Beck Group with Wood, on the condition that he could put out his own albums. Initially, there wasn’t a conflict: neither act was more successful than the other, and Faces members would often join Stewart on his solo LPs. But things changed with 1971’s Every Picture Tells a Story.
Wood and keyboardist Ian McLagan were brought on for most of the album’s recording, but Lane and drummer Kenney Jones are only featured on the track ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’. The album also provided a launching pad for Stewart to eclipse the band in popularity, largely thanks to the success of the hit single ‘Maggie May’, which reached number one in both the US and the UK.
Stewart remained committed to the group, but his status was starting to make it appear as if the Faces were simply playing backup to Stewart. The perception especially rattled Lane, who sought a greater voice within the band. Partially thanks to Stewart’s solo success, the Faces 1971 album A Nod’s As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse finally saw them establish their own success, landing a hit with the song ‘Stay With Me’. But the group’s success would once again be overshadowed by Stewart’s solo career upon the release of 1972’s Never a Dull Moment.
Due to the song’s success, ‘Maggie May’ was frequently played by the Faces live. It probably did little to reduce the tensions within the band, but the response it got was inarguable. During the clip below, all it takes is a few guitar strums from Wood for the audience to burst into the song’s opening lines. Stewart hams it up, delighted at the impromptu singalong. Lane, in contrast, looks miserable.
Only a short time after these shows, Lane would depart from the band permanently. A few more years and a few more tours followed, but the Faces never recorded again as Stewart embraced his solo career and Wood eventually found his way to The Rolling Stones.
Check out the 1973 performance of ‘Maggie May’ down below.