History may have a bad memory, but not Ian McLagan. In the last five years, the former Faces keybs man has compiled one standard-ish best-of (Good Boys...When They're Asleep, for Rhino), penned his randy-dandy autobio (All the Rage, without a drop of it) and, finally, mashed together the damned-near best boxed set ever to stagger up to a counter and demand a pint of whatever ya got. But who else would be up to the task? Rod Stewart's off pouring syrup and Ensure all over Gershwin and Porter, Ron Wood's out milking the dry teat with the Kidney Stones, Kenney Jones is wondering how he ever got booted out of The Who, and Ronnie Lane's gone off to the Great Encore in the sky. So it's up to Mac, still recording and remembering outside of Austin, apparently the last town in America where a Brit can find a good pub to walk into and crawl out of.
Five Guys Walk Into a Bar... , showing off with four discs of best-and-rest-ofs and rehearsal fuck-offs and live rambles and hotel-room shambles, won't vault his late band to the top of the grandpops; the history books are already too cram-packed with Influential British Rock Groups of the Nineteen Seventies Who Changed the Face of Music and Radio and Blah-Blah-Blah. Besides, surviving tomorrow was more important to the band than outliving history, which is what happens when you're only sober because the booze has run out, and that's easy enough to rectify, innit, oy? Never did a band have so much fun at having so much fun--this is what making music's all about. Booze + blooze = boogie-rock, and once you steep that stuff in some teardrops, good God, it's a powerful elixir. Enough to knock you off your bar stool and onto your wallet.
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This comp's put together in no particular order, just whatever Mac felt like playing one night whilst imbibing "a pint of black madness," he writes in the estimable liner notes. So it's a '73 single followed by a '69 rehearsal (the Faces' first, jeez) followed by a '71 hotel-room run-through followed by a '75 where'd-that-come-from; songs repeat ("Stay With Me," which never leaves the brain), some never appear at all, and some you never knew existed show up like old friends you've never met. It's a mess but never sloppy, sentimental but never sappy, rough but never rude--like the Faces, y'know?