The Faces were the ultimate bar-band boogie animals, five London lads boozing it up onstage through the early 1970s. They were all-star mates on a bender: Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on guitar, Ronnie Lane on bass, Kenney Jones on drums and Ian McLagan on keyboards. But for all their crazy grins and sloppy bluster, they made some of the friendliest-sounding rock & roll ever. They could tear it up with a fabulously scuzzy rocker such as ""Stay With Me,"" or slow down for the tender folky ballads that were Lane's specialty, such as ""Glad and Sorry,"" ""Love Lives Here"" and ""Debris."" The Faces always played too loose for U.S. radio -- the first time most Americans got to hear them was probably during the closing credits of Rushmore, when Max Fisher turned the party out with ""Ooh La La.""
Five Guys Walk Into a Bar . . . is the loving box set the band deserves, four CDs of hits, rarities and previously unreleased tracks. For the newcomer, a simpler starting point might be the 1999 single-disc hits collection, the clumsily titled but excellent Good Boys . . . When They're Asleep. But Five Guys is an even wilder party, with the Faces stretching out their boozy rock jams and endless blues covers until you can't believe any of them are still standing up. You can hear the freewheeling spirit that inspired bands from the Replacements to Guns n' Roses -- as Slash himself says in the liner notes, ""Trust me, we all wanted to be the Faces!""
The party broke up by 1975: Wood joined the Stones, Jones joined the Who, Stewart spiked his hair and became a solo superstar, and Lane died of multiple sclerosis. Lane was never the most famous of the Faces, but he's the heart of this box set. When he was a lad, his father told him, ""Son, learn to play something, and you'll always have friends."" What Lane did with those wise words is what you hear on Five Guys Walk Into a Bar . . . . Ooh la la, indeed.