Hey, not all that bad if you consider that most consumers will fork over for a Faces album with rather low preliminary expectations: Two or at most three tracks will usually soak up the energy and style of the tunes that grace the records of Rodney himself, the sandy catarrh, a jaunty and rocking swing, the insouciant lip that he lays on his lovers and his listeners. Everybody knows that the other seven cuts are not gonna amount to much — even if they give Rod a third or a quarter compositional credit just to fatten up the sheep, not enough is gonna be happening with master Ronnie Lane’s tenuous tonsilisms. At least that’s the way it’s gone before.
Ooh La La however is more than an excuse to keep three cute journeyman popsters off the dole and behind Rodney and guitarist Ron (“Everything Sounds the Same”) Wood. Only three of the ten tracks are candidates for the poop chute and the rest alternately rock real hard or are fine vehicles for Rod’s mellower and subtler vocal talents. What a surprise. And more, what a relief …
“Silicone Grown” has that nice and fiery tone Woodsy gets out of his axe, a tasty rockish flavor and words that I can’t quite make out the content of, but judging from the title you’d think that they’d have something to do with tits, wouldn’t you? “Cindy Incidentally” comes next and has that old lurching and slightly crapulated feeling that Rod does so well by, something like “Mama You Been on My Mind.” Stewart and Lane collaborated on “Flags And Banners”; Lane sings and it doesn’t come off too hot. A beautifully soulful Stewart vocal rehabilitates “My Fault” from probable torpor if anyone else had done it. “Borstal Boys” is as good a hard-rock number as Rod as ever dealt with; Borstal — reform school in Britain — is no picnic and the tune reflects the loathing that folks have for it, as well as the tough glamour that the word projects.
The second side starts with an interesting, if not gland-opening, instrumental by Jones – McLagen – Wood – Lane, then gets into a pair of handsome and gentle songs on which Stewart excels, the smoky “If I’m on the Late Side” and especially Ronnie Lane’s “Just Another Honky,” a self-conscious musicians’ lament which Rod delivers as well as any song on his own albums. It’s a smart tune that cancels out the doldrums of “Glad And Sorry” and the title tune, which shamefully falls on its Face; any song about the old-time boulevardier spirit oughtta move, but this sounds like thumb-sucking to me.
In any case seven out of ten is better than average for this bunch, good enough to rate as a solid pop record, although I might consider “Borstal Boys” alone worth the price. It’s strong.