Top 10 Ian McLagan Songs
The late Ian McLagan's contributions to the Small Faces and the Faces truly helped shape the sound of those legendary bands, and his years of incredible session work with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan made him one of the most in-demand session players in the world. His distinct style, whether on piano or Hammond B-3 organ, added volumes to all the songs he played on. We salute Mr. McLagan by sharing 10 of his finest moments:
On this 1966 B-side of the Small Faces first hit, 'Sha La La La Lee,' the band deliver a prime example of what made them so great right from the start. This Booker T & the MG's-inspired instrumental shakes and grooves like a monster. Dance floors beware, you'll get worn out with this one!
From the team of Rod Stewart and Ian McLagan, 'Three Button Hand Me Down' was, and still is, the highlight of the band's 1970 debut 'First Step.' The groove they get going is unstoppable and infectious. If this one doesn't get you moving, check your pulse -- Mac's trademark Hammond B-3 is in full force here.
In 2006, McLagan suffered a terrible loss with the death of his wife of nearly 30 years in a car accident. Two years later, he rebounded with an incredible album entitled 'Never Say Never.' The title cut is one of the most beautiful and haunting ballads ever written, overflowing with raw, and obviously very genuine, emotions.
Though Ian's songwriting contributions with both the Small Faces and Faces were low in quantity, they were nothing but high in quality. "I was writing and trying to get in, but, they…they didn’t let me," he said of the Small Faces days, explaining that Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane had a lock on the writing department. Luckily, that grip got a bit looser as time went on, and by the time the Faces were rolling, McLagan was able to get in on more writing. One of the results was this swaggering rocker from their classic third album, 'A Nod Is as Good as a Wink... to a Blind Horse.'
When asked what his favorite Small Faces record was, McLagan told me, "I gotta say ‘Tin Soldier,’ I mean, it’s such a great song. Great sounds on it, it’s just a winner. I can listen to that anytime." We concur! It certainly ranks among the Small Faces' finest moments, and from the subtle piano opening to the vibrant and commanding Hammond B-3, Mac is all over this one.
On his most recent album,' United States,' Ian got back in the groove after a six year absence with a triumphant, wonderful LP. Among the album's many top shelf songs is this fantastic, jaunty rocker. Musically and lyrically, Mac never sounded better than he does on 'Love Letter' -- which would have made for a perfect Faces track.
'Borstal Boys' is one of the most amazing examples of what made the Faces the best of their era: a stomping, reckless rocker with Kenney Jones and Ronnie Lane holding down the fort while Ron Wood's guitar slashes everything in its path. Meanwhile, Rod Stewart delivers one of his best vocals ever, and McLagan pounds away on the piano like a madman.
Mac was late to the game releasing a solo album, but when he did in 1979 with 'Troublemaker,' it was a record full of great rockers like the lead-off track, 'La De La.' It's a two-and-a-half-minute blast of rousing rock 'n' roll full of a chewy pop melody and gritty energy.
The opening track from the Faces' 1971 album 'Long Player' is a full-on raver, showing off the band in fine style. Co-written by McLagan and Rod Stewart, it helped define what would become the Faces sound and style: movin,' groovin' and soulful rock 'n' roll.
The joy and jubilation of 'Afterglow' has few equals. It's as triumphant as it is rocking, and Mac's Hammond powers the whole machine. At times, his playing takes on an almost church-like feel as the guys lead us all into rock 'n' roll bliss for a few glorious minutes.