Guide to British Music of the 1960s

February 2014

CD Review

The Small Faces - Greatest Hits The Immediate Years

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And the hits just keep on coming. Following the recent issue of Here Come the Nice - The Immediate Years boxed set, Charly has now released a compilation of worldwide A and B sides that is nothing short of a superb collection of Small Faces later tracks. None of the tracks are "new" as such but they have benefited in a major way from the recent remastering of Small Faces material, a long overdue exercise. Simply put, this is the best that these classic tracks have ever sounded and are as close to what the band produced in the studio as possible.

Those who have already purchased Here Come the Nice will recognise the running order and choice of tracks. This is the same as disc one of the set. However, for those who do not have the boxed set then this is the best way to own some of the best music that came out of the second half of the '60s. These are not just superb songs but they are remastered and sounding better and crisper than ever. Instruments are much clearer than ever before

The Immediate period was the second half of the Small Faces career. They had previously been recording for Decca while managed by Don Arden but they were attracted by the artistic freedom that Andrew Loog-Oldham was offering through his Immediate label. Recording artists in their own right, the Small Faces were also intended to be the house band writing and producing for other artists as well as acting as the backing group. PP Arnold's (If You Think You're) Groovy is the prime example of this. However, despite the best of intentions the greatest tracks, arguably, released on Immediate were the Small Faces own singles. Many years later songs such as Itchycoo Park and Lazy Sunday and probably the two tracks most associated with the group by those with less knowledge of the group. Amongst Small Faces fans, Room for Ravers own ongoing song vote shows that there is an overwhelmingly popular track, Steve Marriott's superb Tin Soldier.

Alongside these iconic singles there is no shortage of quality in the other tracks. Here Come the Nice somehow became a hit while the censors were looking elsewhere. "He's always there when I need some speed" did little to hide the fact that the "Nice" was a drug dealer. Likewise, was Itchycoo Park's line "I get high" really about the swings in the park.

For many artists b-sides were either a throw-away to fill up space on the 45 or a chance to experiment. For the Small Faces the b-sides were also extremely high quality tracks. Flip over the 45 of Itchycoo Park and listen to I'm Only Dreaming, a simply stunning track and, like Tin Soldier, one which shows each member of the group playing at their absolute peak. If anyone doubts just how good a songwriter Steve Marriott was they should listen to this track or another classic Marriott love song such as Afterglow of Your Love.

Other tracks point to Marriott's future direction with Humble Pie and the birth of British heavy rock. Lazy Sunday's b-side Rollin' Over and the Afterglow b-side Wham Bam Thank You Mam are heavy rockers that show the Small Faces had moved a long way from the likes of Sha La La La Lee and were planting signposts to the future of British rock music.

But it was not all Steve Marriott. The other half of the songwriting partnership Ronnie Lane was delivering excellent tracks with quite a different feel. Itchycoo Park was essentially a Ronnie Lane song despite Marriott taking the lead vocals. However, Lane's more reflective style comes to the fore on Green Circles and Something I Want to Tell You.

The end of the Small Faces career was marked by two final singles. The Universal is effectively a Steve Marriott solo track. Recorded initially in his garden in Marlow the tracks marks the recorded debut of his dog whose bark is substantially clearer on the remastered version. The track was finished in the studio. It's a great track but not really a fitting way to finish one of the 1960s greatest groups. However, it was followed by Afterglow of Your Love from the aborted 1862 album. Like All or Nothing or Tin Soldier this is Steve Marriott at his best showing that he really knew how to write a long song. The vocals show why Marriott was rated so highly as a vocalist. The track changes vocal style throughout while remaining always 100% soulful. What a way to finish.

This has to be the essential collection of second half Small Faces tracks. Dedicated collectors may already have the disc through the boxed set but for anyone else this is nothing less than essential listening. Play loud and be amazed at how these tracks have been transformed.

Immediate / Charly

Released: 15 February 2014

Track Listing:

  1. Here Come The Nice
  2. Talk To You
  3. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
  4. Something I Want To Tell You
  5. Get Yourself Together
  6. Become Like You
  7. Green Circles
  8. Eddie's Dreaming
  9. Itchycoo Park
  10. I'm Only Dreaming
  11. Tin Soldier
  12. I Feel Much Better
  13. Lazy Sunday
  14. Rollin' Over
  15. Mad John
  16. The Journey
  17. The Universal
  18. Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass
  19. Afterglow of Your Love
  20. Wham Bam Thank You Mam

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