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Anyone who’s at all familiar with me personally will readily know that I
won’t stop recommending whatever I’m listening to at the time.
Whether it’s a great new album by a great new band, an old classic or
an indie gem, I’m constantly doling out little bits of my own personal
music philosophy, occasionally making mix CDs and tapes if need be.
I’d like to think that they don’t always fall on uninterested ears, too, but I think I’m doing alright for myself in that
But one aspect of my music fandom that I rarely share is recommending box sets. Box sets aren’t something
that the average person just picks up. They’re usually thought-out purchases or well-timed presents. They’re not
for the casual listener, and they’re definitely not what to start a new fan on.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience boxed set is a great example of this. Between the presentation and the selection of
unreleased songs, it really can’t be beat. But it’s nowhere near the first place for anyone just getting interested in
Jimi to go. The set is really for the hardcore fan and the hardcore fan alone, the one who owns his four standard
albums, First Rays of the New Rising Sun, all of the live discs and any stray DVD that may have been released
along the way.
But, with every rule, there is one exception. The Faces, of all bands, have proven to be that exception.
|The Faces were all about fun.
|A few months ago, while browsing through All Music
Guide, I came along this review. AMG, classically, is
as down-the-middle as they come, reserving their
praise only for those they deem truly worthy. So to read
such a glowing review of the Faces’ Five Guys Walk
Into A Bar, a review that praises it as the best box ever
from the get-go, spurred me to think about picking it up.
I finally did, and what a revelation it was.
Now, the Faces may be rock’s most under-
appreciated band, at least stateside. Perhaps its due
to Rod Stewart’s latter-day sins as a solo artists, but
the Faces, in my book, are one of the greatest rock n’
roll bands to ever grace the planet. Fun, loose,
exciting, bluesy, they were everything a band should
be. And because of this, I was in the habit of
recommending their best-of disc, Good Boys .. When
They’re Alseep. As definitive band statements go, that
couldn’t be beat.
But this four disc set really blew me away. Arranged by
feel instead of chronologically, the set moves, shutters
and shakes through the very best of British rock n’ roll.
From album tracks to singles to b-sides, live takes,
covers and radio sessions, Five Guys ran the gamut
and never let up. And as exhausting as listening to
four discs (nearly five hours) of material can be, I didn’t
stop at one listen. Or two. Or 10.
The set works perfectly for so many reasons. It balances the unheard with the favorites. It flows effortlessly, like
one long, exquisite song. It gives a great sense of the fun the Faces had. The originals, such as “Flying,” “Miss
Judy’s Farm” and “Too Bad,” feel perfectly at home next to the covers, including Free’s “The Stealer,” Paul
McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”
In short, it plays like the ultimate Faces show. Sure, there’s plenty of flubbed notes, off-key vocals and missed
cues, but what it lacks in professionalism it more than makes up for in energy. Really, there has never been a
better boxed set in terms of sheer energy — this set never loses its momentum. It works as both a sprint and a
I have other box sets in my collection, and I enjoy them all. But, I enjoy them all sporadically and pull out one disc
from any given set from time to time. With Five Guys, I feel compelled to start at square one every time and get
ready for the marathon. Or, I’ll leave it in my car and go through them on my commute. It’s been a few months
now, and I haven’t become even a little sick of it.
The Faces, ignored in their time in favor of the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin, were long ignored in
the annals of boxed-set history. That, thankfully, is no longer the case. Five Guys Walk Into A Bar really is in a
class by itself in the boxed-set world.
So, if you’re now interested in hearing this band (and how could you not be?), go ahead and feel free to lay down
your money on this set. Don’t fret about best-of discs or the proper albums just yet, though if you like you can pick
those up later. No, this is where it’s at for this band. The songs, the swagger, the attitude — it’s all here. This
band will become your best friends in the world.
And you’ll never have (or hear) more fun in a cardboard package.