Today’s music video is Ooh La La and the song is performed here by the English group Faces.
This video was posted to You Tube by TheMusicalNoise
The video clip I have featured today has two separate stories behind it, and the link between those two stories is tenuous at best, and only happened upon by chance.
The first story relates back to the video clip I showed last week at this link. That showed a Top 40 Chart from the 7th December 1966, and featured five debut Singles in the Top Ten, well, the top seven really, and this was something which has only happened the one time in Australian popular music history. One of those songs was Ooh La La, performed by the Australian male singer Normie Rowe, and that song went on to reach Number One and spend four weeks at the top of the Australian charts. The song was probably one of the most popular songs by a male vocalist in Australia’s pop music history. I remember the song because it received so much radio airplay at the time, and most young Australians at that time knew the lyrics off by heart, the song was so popular. I went looking for the video clip of the song, admittedly made in late 1966, so it was very basic, and upon reflection, I realised the song was in fact pretty average really when listening to it now so many years later, but here you need to understand the times, and when the song was first released, aimed specifically at one market, and because of that, the song sold in huge numbers and was a monster hit, making Normie Rowe the premier male vocalist in Australia at that time.
The second story concerns a current TV advertisement, for an Insurance Company which caters mainly to older people, and that TV ad is shown at this link. The TV ad is played fairly regularly, and every time I see it, I wonder why the song is so familiar.
The lyrics include the line:
“I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”
It nagged away at me every time I heard it, knowing it was an old song, but I wasn’t able to put my finger on the song itself, or even the singer who originally sang the song. The song was never a major hit at any level, and it never even made it into the Top 40 anywhere, so I wondered why I even remembered it at all, as I couldn’t even think of the title, having only that one line to go by.
Okay then, back to the first story. I was chasing up a video clip of that Normie Rowe song, and I saw a second song with the same title Ooh La La, and this song was done by the English group Faces, and was recorded in 1973, seven years after the Normie Rowe song. The first thing I thought of was why would anyone want to do a cover version of that Normie Rowe song. So I clicked on the song, and everything fell immediately into place. It wasn’t a cover version of that Normie Rowe song at all, and as soon as the first few bars played, I immediately recognised the song as the same one in that TV ad that was nagging at me every time I heard it. I also then immediately realised where I had heard it before, as it was a staple of Rod Stewart’s at nearly all of his concerts in recent years. What was odd though was that the original, performed by the band, and here in this video clip was not performed by the lead singer of Faces, which was Rod Stewart, but here in the original, it was being sung by Ronnie Lane.
Faces was the band formed when the band Small Faces dissolved after Steve Marriott left that band to form the super group Humble Pie in 1968. Everyone sort of expected the band to fold, but shortly after, the core of the former band was joined by Ronnie Wood, (later to join The Rolling Stones) and Rod Stewart, a jouneyman singer already part of a couple of bands, the most recent of them The Jeff Beck Group, and the resultant group just dropped the word ‘Small’ from their name and became Faces. The band went on to have a pretty big career, albeit only for five or six years, but they had some albums which sold in large numbers and a couple of hit singles, but the band’s real strength was their early live performances.
Look what happened when the band folded though. Rod Stewart started an immensely huge solo career, Ronnie Wood left to join The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Lane started a new band Slim Chance and also had a solo career, and drummer Kenney Jones joined The Who after the death of their drummer Keith Moon.
This song I have featured today, Ooh La La has a history of its own, despite never having charted on any charts. The song was released as a single off the band’s last studio album, also titled Ooh La La. The song was written by Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood. While the Single didn’t do much, the album topped the album charts in the UK, their first Number One album.
As to the song itself, there’s a pretty baseless rumour going around that the band’s lead singer Rod Stewart didn’t think all that much of the song at first, and had Ronnie Lane sing the lead vocals for it. However, that is all it is, a baseless rumour. What really happened is that the song was recorded in the studio twice, once with Rod Stewart singing the lead vocals, and the second one with Ronnie Lane singing the lead vocals. When both were played back, the album’s producer, along with the band itself, thought that the Ronnie Lane version sounded better, so that was the cut which made it onto the final recording for the album. After the band split up in 1974/5, Ronnie Lane recorded a solo version of it for his solo career, and also with his new band.
Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1977, and that curtailed his music career somewhat, and that MS ultimately led to his death in 1997.
From that point, Rod Stewart now well into his huge solo career started singing the song as a tribute to Ronnie Lane, and that’s where the song became popular all over again. Not long after Ronnie Lane’s death in 1997, Rod Stewart released Ooh La La as a Single and it charted moderately in the UK, just scraping into the Top Twenty. The song became a regular one at his live concerts from then on. The official video clip of that Rod Stewart cover is shown at this link, and it’s a little risque, in line with the persona which was Rod Stewart at the time.
The song itself deals with a young man thinking back to a talk he had with his grandfather where the older man cautioned the young man on the ways of women, as expressed in the lyrics:
Poor old Granddad I laughed at all his words
I thought he was a bitter man
He spoke of women’s ways
They’ll trap you, then they use you before you even know
For love is blind and you’re far too kind
Don’t ever let it showI wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger.
It’s funny how the stories behind some songs are more interesting than the songs themselves, and again, such is the case here.