I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now when I was stronger
Don’t we all, though.
Perhaps it’s not too out of step, despite the metronomic regularity with which the sexual abuse of women by various powerful men is being exposed these days, to offer a song premised on the notion that there are still some fellows out there who’re romantic and kind, and whose hearts are repeatedly broken.
The Faces were the reconstituted successors to the Small Faces, of Itchygoo Park fame. It may seem rather a bland moniker, but “Face” was Mod slang for a cool and popular guy; you were either a “face” or one of the nameless rabble of “tickets”, who were nobodies. According to legend, the original name was a reference to the diminutive stature of everyone in the band, and “Small” was dropped as it didn’t fit newcomers Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, both in the five-ten to six-foot range.
Stewart was pursuing a solo career at this point, and is said to have been only vaguely interested in completing the recording of Ooh La La, failing to even show up for the sessions after insisting upon key changes to better suit his vocal range. Thus that’s Ron Wood on vocals. Odd, then, that the song blends in so well with the rest of Stewart’s contemporary solo catalogue – one can easily imagine it slotting into Every Picture Tells a Story or Never a Dull Moment – being expressive of the same sort of humane and rueful humility that was once so characteristic of Rod’s songs, back before Atlantic Crossing and all that Tonight’s the Night/Do Ya Think I’m Sexy/Young Turks pandering to the dance club scene damn near destroyed his reputation.
Nobody remembers that later stuff any more, thank God, though it made Rod scads of money. Scads and scads.
The rather creepy Terry Gilliam-like head jawing away in the video is the actual album cover from the vinyl release. Novelty sleeves like this were in style back then – the Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers with a real working zipper incorporated into the shot on the cover – and I can recall playing idly with our copy of Ooh La La in just the same way.