Ooh La La is the fourth and final studio album by the Faces. Recorded at London’s Olympic Studios between September 1972 and January 1973 and produced by Glyn Johns, the album reached number one in the UK charts and number twenty-one in the US. The album cover depicts a photo of ‘Gastone’, a stage character created by 1920s Italian comedian Ettore Petrolini. The cover was designed so that when the top edge was pressed down Gastone’s eyes would move to the side, while his mouth dropped into a creepy smile.
Tensions in the band were reaching boiling point at the time of the recording, with Rod Stewart’s increasingly successful solo career taking him away from the band, even missing the first two weeks of recording sessions. As Ian McLagan would explain in the liner notes to the Faces box set, “Rod wasn’t there a lot, but Ronnie had his songs together already.” As a consequence, Ronnie Lane’s influence on Ooh La La became stronger and, according to Ian McLagan, it became “Ronnie’s album”.
With Lane at the helm, the record features two of his solo efforts, the ballad ‘Glad and Sorry’, with vocals by Lane, Wood and McLagan and the mid-tempo keyboard groove of ‘Just Another Honky’. The writing partnership of Wood and Stewart, which had flourished during A Nod is as Good as a Wink…To a Blind Horse, would only produce the one song, the cheeky and typically raucous rocker ‘Silicone Grown’, whilst a new partnership of Lane and Stewart would provide ‘Flags and Banners’ and ‘If I’m on the Late Side’.
The album also contains three tracks written by Wood, Stewart and McLagan – ‘My Fault’, ‘Borstal Boys’ and the group’s biggest UK hit single, ‘Cindy Incidentally’, which reached number two in the charts. The instrumental track, ‘Fly in the Ointment’, is credited to Wood, McLagan, Lane and Jones and is the only track by the four musicians to be included on an album.
Ending the album is one of the band’s best known and loved tunes, the title track, Ooh La La, written by Ronnie Wood and Ronnie Lane. It is the only solo lead vocal that Wood recorded with the Faces, because, according to Ian McLagan, ‘It was too high or low for Ronnie — I can’t remember which…..And Rod said it was in the wrong key for him.’ Wood remembers the band ‘taking the piss out of me….Ahh, he can’t reach the notes–what a terrible barrage to work against.’ However, the song’s popularity stands testament to how well it did work.
Only three months after the album’s release Ronnie Lane quit the band, precipitating their eventual break up in 1975.