A Nod’s As Good As a Wink… to a Blind Horse is the third album by British rock group Faces, and their second album of 1971. Released November 17, 1971 Bolstered somewhat by lead singer Rod Stewart’s recent solo success with “Maggie May”, it was their most successful album worldwide, peaking at No. 6 in the US, and reaching No. 2 in the UK. It also contains their biggest US hit, the swaggering “Stay with Me” (No. 6 in the UK, No. 17 in the US), and the album itself would be certified gold by the RIAA in 1972.
The album is generally regarded by critics and fans as the Faces’ definitive statement; the most consistent, balanced album of the group’s career in terms of songwriting and of mood, thanks in no small part to the decision to share production duties with Glyn Johns (Johns’ association with the group stretched back as far as their original iteration as the Small Faces). As a result of Johns’ involvement the album is a more focused and concise offering than the two previous Faces LPs, clocking in at 36.28, where both of its predecessors exceeded the 45 minute mark.
The album features two tasteful original ballads and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis Tennessee” alongside the usual Faces’ trademark raucous bluesy rockers and rollicking bar-room swing-alongs. Bassist Ronnie Lane, usually confined to backing vocals and the occasional sole lead vocal on previous Faces records, sings lead on three of his own compositions here (one co-written with keyboardist Ian McLagan). Of these, “Debris”, an elliptical but profoundly emotional examination of father-son relationships, was chosen as the B-side to their hit “Stay With Me”.
The title of the album is a reference to a similar line in Monty Python’s Flying Circus’s “Nudge Nudge” sketch. The original issue of the album came with a large poster consisting of a picture collage, including images of pills and pharmaceutical capsules, as well as polaroid photos apparently taken on tour of band and crew members reveling with naked groupies in hotel rooms. Within weeks of release, the record company had second thoughts about the poster and re-issued the album without it, turning original copies with the poster into collectors’ items overnight.
- “Miss Judy’s Farm” 3:42
- “You’re So Rude” 3:46
- “Love Lives Here” 3:09
- “Last Orders Please” 2:38
- “Stay with Me” 4:38
- “Debris” 4:39
- “Memphis” 5:31
- “Too Bad” 3:16
- “That’s All You Need” 5:05
Rod Stewart – lead vocals on tracks 1, 3, 5 & 7–9, harmonica
Ronnie Lane – bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, lead vocals on tracks 2, 4 & 6, backing vocals on “Stay With Me” and “Too Bad”
Ronnie Wood – lead, slide, acoustic and pedal steel guitars, harmonica, backing vocals on “Stay With Me” and “Too Bad”
Ian McLagan – piano, organ, backing vocals on “Too Bad”
Kenney Jones – drums, percussion
Harry Fowler – steel drums on “That’s All You Need”
Glyn Johns – co-producer, engineer