Fillmore West 1970 Off Master
(Idol Mind IMP-N-021)
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – October 28th, 1970
Disc 1 (40:04): Opening, Devotion, You’re My Girl, Wicked Messenger, Country Comfort, Flying, Too Much Woman, Cut Across Shorty
Disc 2 (66:04): MC, Maybe I’m Amazed, Around The Plynth, Country Honk, Gasoline Alley, Around The Plynth, Love In Vain, Three Button Hand Me Down, It’s All Over Now, I Feel So Good, Blues De Luxe
With their first album First Step already six months old, The Faces began their second tour of the US on October 1st with a low-key gig in Vermont. Billed as “Small Faces with Rod Stewart,” they played several gigs on the west coast by the end of the month including an early and a late show at the Fillmore West.
Both sets exist in a good to very good mono audience recording. There were pressed before on A Rock And Roll Party With The Faces (Deep Six-42) along with a telecast from French TV in 1971. Idol Mind released Fillmore West 1970 Off Master first was released in February 2009 with slightly better instrument mix and clarity.
This 20th Anniversary reissue is slightly sharper with more gain than the older, sounding much like the CDR faces. marvelous. The instruments are well defined, especially Ron Wood’s guitar which was a bit difficult to hear in the past. Idol Mind wants to own the definitive version of this show on silver disc and they’ve come close.
At the beginning the mc (who sounds a lot like J.J. Jackson) introduces the band as the Small Faces. Rod Stewart then says they’ll play the first number “which must be taken in earnest” before the slow paced “Devotion” from their first album.
Things pick up considerably when Wood comes in for the introduction to “You’re My Girl (I Don’t Want To Discuss It)” from Stewart’s classic second solo album Gasoline Alley. The Faces’ version is played a bit slower than the studio recording and with Ian McLagan’s keyboards added. It’s less funky but more rock and roll.
The cover of Bob Dylan’s “Wicked Messenger” is also very heavy and an effective live piece. The guitars create an atmosphere of dread and uncertainty behind Stewart’s vocals. Afterwards Stewart mentions Dylan and says that “the wicked messenger apparently came from Eli and didn’t have anything nice to say about anybody” referring to the priest Eli from 2 Samuel, mentioned in the song and is the one who sends the wicked messenger.
“Country Comfort” is a nice cover of the Elton John song. Both Faces and Stewart weren’t shy about doing many covers in their live act. But whereas other bands chose to reinterpret older blues, rock and R&B tunes, they had no problem covering brand new songs by other artists. But this cover was released on Gasoline Alley several months before Elton John would release it on Tumbleweed Connection.
Stewart says that “Flying” requires “some orchestration for the orchestra” and asks the sound man to put more echo on his vocal. It’s followed by a cover of Ike Turner’s “Too Much Woman (For A Henpecked Man).” A live cover that wasn’t officially released until last year on the Stand By Me Faces Anthology, this performance lacks the “Street Fighting Man” reference of later performances. The first set ends with “Cut Across Shorty.”
The first set was very tight and professional (by Faces standards). The start off the second half with their cover of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” released by McCartney earlier in the year and the Faces would release on their 1971 LP Long Player. Afterwards all hell breaks loose on stage.
Stewart refers to “Around The Plynth” as “our national anthem around the world” from their “Jeff Beck days.” Wood pulls out the slide and the begins the song. Wood’s jam leads them into a bit of The Rolling Stones’ “Country Tonk” and then into Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley.” More jamming on “Around The Plynth” leads into the song’s final verse twelve minutes later.
It’s a fascinating piece and an excellent live vehicle. Stewart jokes about the lack of an opening act before they play the Rolling Stones’ cover of Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain.”
Stewart gets very chatty before “Three Button Hand Me Down,” asking the audience to be patient with their mistakes and asking if they’ve all got a drink. Ron Wood plays bass, joining Ronnie Lane, and they deliver a long jam on the song. It lacks the swagger of other performances and is quite sloppy, but the effect is interesting nonetheless.
The show ends with a long performances of “It’s All Over Now,” “I Feel So Good” and a rare cover of the Jeff Beck Group tune “Blues Deluxe.”
Fillmore West 1970 Off Master is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with one-sided inserts (the insides are white). The front cover of the reissue utilizes the same design except it lacks “The 2nd US Tour” on the lower right hand corner. This is a great document for Faces collectors. It was early enough in their career when they weren’t so self-conscious about being a sloppy drunk party band and instead were delivering a tight, diverse and experimental rock and roll show.