Guide to British Music of the 1960s

September 2001

CD Review

The Small Faces - Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake


Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is one of the classic albums of the 1960s. It is also widely regarded as one of the first concept albums although only the second side (of the original LP) could be considered as such. The Small Faces had evolved from playing some of the hottest R&B around to more of a psychedelic sound. This was partially enabled by their move from Decca to Immediate Records. Immediate may have been a disaster financially but it did give the group all the studio time to experiment and branch out into new areas. 

But the innovation was not just in the music. The LP came in a circular cover that folded out to reveal pictures of the band. This sleeve had been duplicated on some of the CD releases of the album. The title of the album was taken from Ogdens' Nut Brown Flake, a popular brand of rolling tobacco with the sleeve designed to look like a tobacco tin. "Brown" was changed to "Gone" to represent the state that the band often found itself in. 

There were already indications of a new direction from the Small Faces with recent singles including Here Come The Nice, Itchycoo Park and the glorious Tin Soldier. A taster for the album was Lazy Sunday. Probably the best-known song on the album, the group was unhappy about its release as a single as they believed it made them into a fun group. With a degree of hindsight the single highlighted the group's sense of humour without making them a joke band. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake fused the group's R&B with psychedelia, drugs references and Cockney music hall reflecting their East End roots. 

Side one consists of unlinked tracks with the aforementioned Lazy Sunday and Afterglow outstanding. The title track that opens the album is an instrumental version of an earlier single I've Got Mine. Afterglow is a beautiful song hardly rated by Marriott. Keyboard player Ian McLagan chips in with Long Agos and World Apart. Rene goes back to the East End of London again. The East End was London docks and Rene would hang around there "groping with a stoker from the coast of Kuala Lumpur." A couple of the tracks show the heavier direction that Steve Marriott, in particular appeared to be moving towards. Song of a Baker and Rollin' Over are classics. 

Lazy Sunday tell the story of Marriott's problems with his neighbours. They banged on the wall constantly because he played his music so loud. Was this complaining justified? Very much so it appears!

The second side (or tracks 7-12 on the CD) make up a story with narration by Professor Stanley Unwin. The story tells of Happiness Stan who is looking for the other half of the moon. Unwin's narration links the songs beautifully in his inimitable way. Kenney Jones is currently working on animated version of the story. The songs are made to fit the story but also stand up in their own right as fun tracks. The final track Happy Days Toy Town is the only song to mention All Bran as far as I know!

Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake combines a quirky and fun style with some of the greatest pop song ever written. 

What a mindblast!

Essential tracks:

  • Song of a Baker
  • Afterglow (Of Your Love)
  • Rollin' Over
Release date: 1968 Immediate Records
Highest UK chart position: 1
Highest US chart position: 159

Track Listing:

  1. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake
  2. Afterglow (Of Your Love)
  3. Long Agos and Worlds Apart
  4. Rene
  5. Song of a Baker
  6. Lazy Sunday
  7. Happiness Stan
  8. Rollin' Over
  9. The Hungry Intruder
  10. The Journey
  11. Mad John
  12. Happy Days Toy Town

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