Guide to British Music of the 1960s

June 2003

CD Review

The Small  Faces - Ultimate Collection

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This is a collection that has been almost 35 years in the making. Over the years there have been many Small Faces collections, many of these promising to be the ultimate collection of Small Faces tracks. So why is this latest release The Ultimate Collection? Quite simply, this is the first CD, at least the first official release sanctioned by the band, that includes all of the band's singles and other outstanding tracks. It comprises around half of their recorded output. This is without doubt the best collection of Small Faces tracks that has been put together. Prior to this you could choose between an excellent Decca collection or an excellent Immediate collection. There was a strong argument for buying both but if you were looking for one CD only you had to choose. Now you can have the best of the Small Faces on one 2CD set.

Why is everything divided into two parts? The Small Faces' career was divided in two. Manager Don Arden signed the band with Decca where they had a string of hits starting with What'Cha Gonna Do About It and including the sole number one All or Nothing. The debut was written for the band and based closely on Everybody Needs Somebody To Love if you thought it sounded familiar. Thinking they could write a hit, the Small Faces next released I've Got Mine written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. Despite being featured in the film Dateline Diamonds this failed to chart. Not willing to risk another self-penned track Arden arranged for the band to record Sha La La La Lee written for them by Kenny Lynch and Mort Schuman. This returned them to the charts. The Marriott/Lane songwriting team was given another chance and this led to a string of hit singles including Hey Girl My Mind's Eye and All or Nothing. However, the band was becoming disillusioned with Arden and Decca and when Andrew Loog Oldham came along and offered them unlimited studio time and creative freedom through his newly-formed Immediate Records they jumped at the chance. 

The second CD features the Immediate years. Gone is the rough R & B style of the earlier tracks for a more refined music, bordering on psychedelia at times. Starting with the drug song that did not receive a ban (no-one appears to have noticed what the song was about) Here Comes the Nice, the CD covers some of the Small Faces most creative work, indeed some of the more creative work that came out of England during the late 1960s and this was generally an exceptionally creative age. Itchycoo Park is arguably the best-known of the tracks but it is Tin Soldier that is particularly outstanding. A clear winner in the reader's poll on Making Time's Room for Ravers Small Faces site, it was also voted the ninth greatest single of all time in a Mojo readers' vote. Quite simply this track has everything. it was where every member of the band performed superbly, the layers of guitars and Mac's Hammond, Ronnie Lane's bass line and Kenney Jones' explosive drumming and then there is Steve Marriott's vocal performance which ranges from soft to screaming. This is augmented with the superb PP Arnold on backing vocals. The "final" Small Faces single, The Universal sounds quite different to anything else and is, more or less, just Marriott with acoustic guitar. Recorded in his garden in London the track even features Marriott's dog on background barking. A posthumous single was Afterglow (Of Your Love). Like Tin Soldier, this features a series of moods and is generally ranked as one of Marriott's best-ever vocal performances. He thought it as just a soppy love song! 

In 1968 the Small Faces released the concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. A number of tracks are represented here including the heavier Rollin' Over, a taste of what was to come with Humble Pie.  Some of the later tracks continue this heavy style. Wham Bam Thank You Mam and Don't Burst My Bubble are excellent examples. 

Overall there is nothing here that has not been available before. However, the sound quality has been improved, even from recent reissues, and the songs sound better than they have ever done. This is some of the greatest pop from the 1960s.

Release Date: May 2003

Highest UK chart placing: 24

Essential Tracks:

Track Listing:

The Decca Sessions
1. What'cha Gonna Do About It?
2. I've Got Mine
3. It's Too Late
4. Sha-La-La-La-Lee
5. Grow Your Own
6. Hey Girl
7. Shake
8. Come On Children
9. You Better Believe It
10. One Night Stand
11. Sorry She's Mine
12. Own Up Time
13. You Need Loving
14. Don't Stop What You Are Doing
15. E Too D
16. All Or Nothing
17. Understanding
18. My Mind's Eye
19. I Can't Dance With You
20. I Can't Make It
21. Just Passing
22. Patterns
23. Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
24. That Man
25. Baby Don't Do It

The Immediate Sessions
1. Here Comes The Nice
2. Talk To You
3. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
4. Things Are Going To Get Better
5. My Way Of Giving
6. Green Circles
7. Get Yourself Together
8. Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire
9. Eddie's Dreaming
10. Itchycoo Park
11. I'm Only Dreaming
12. Tin Soldier
13. I Feel Much Better
14. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
15. Afterglow (Of Your Love)
16. Song of A Baker
17. Lazy Sunday
18. Rollin' Over
19. Mad John
20. Happy Days Toy Town
21. The Universal
22. Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass
23. Wham Bam, Thank You Mam
24. Don't Burst My Bubble
25. The Autumn Stone

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