Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2012

CD Review

The Small Faces - The Small Faces (First Immediate)

Buy at amazon.uk.uk 

The Small Faces was previously reviewed in 1997. Since then, the album has been reissued in a number of formats including an Immediate Records boxed set. This new version is the definitive version with remastered tracks offering the best sound quality yet. An additional track on CD2 is Don't Burst My Bubble, a real rocker and a clear influence on The Jam's The Gift. This more than any other track highlights the improvement in sound quality. The three opening guitar harmonics and so crystal-clear they are piercing and the percussion of the middle eight sounds like never before. The Small Faces never received the commercial treatment they deserved. It was only many years after the demise of the band that a deal was done to secure royalties from their own recordings. Furthermore, their influential music had been the subject of numerous low-price, low quality compilations that there was a real danger the importance of the Small Faces would be diminished. However, the hard work of many including band members Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones has ensured that not only do the band members (or their widows in the case of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane) receive their royalties but now the music itself is given the attention it deserves. Both Mac and Kenney were heavily involved in the release of these deluxe Small Faces CDs.

Some of the additional tracks, at least the alternative versions, offer a different perspective on the original album's songs although there is not really anything new here. The non-album singles and b-sides are a great addition as they are some of the landmark tracks that the Small Faces released. Tin Solider is a classic of all time while Itchycoo Park and Here Come The Nice are vital singles from that period. An essential inclusion is the b-side of Itchycoo Park which is surely one of the greatest b-sides ever released. I'm Only Dreaming is a classic track and its appeal remains undiminished by time. Like the following single Tin Soldier, this is the Small Faces at their best; a great piece of songwriting, superb vocals and every member of the band playing at their peak. Simply perfection. 

The album was originally released in July 1967. It was the Small Faces' second LP if you exclude the round-up album From the Beginning. Like the first LP, the album was self-titled although it is commonly referred to as the "first Immediate album" to distinguish it from the debut album on Decca. The band had moved to Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records due to dissatisfaction with previous manager Don Arden. They were at their peak and had already had a number one hit with All or Nothing. However, they felt creatively stifled. They could not hear themselves at live concerts due to the screaming girls and music was moving away from that towards more serious work. Andrew Loog Oldham promised them plenty of studio time and they made the most of this during extended periods in Olympic Studios, coming up with a string of classic singles and two critically-acclaimed albums. The group had a chance to experiment with their sound and they made the most of the opportunity. The Small Faces (Immediate) certainly deserves to be ranked amongst the greatest British albums of the time along with Revolver and Odyssey & Oracle. Like Revolver, The Small Faces represented a major transformation from the pop market to the rock market. However, the album did not achieve the sales it really deserved at the time although this may partly due to being released in the same month as Sergeant Pepper!

There were no singles included on the original album although (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me had been planned as a single but contractual problems prevented its release. This a real hidden gem and a great album opener. An alternative mix is included on CD1 but the original remains the better version.

Marriott & Lane belong on the list of great writing partnerships like McCartney/Lennon and Jagger/Richards although, like the Beatles, many of their tracks are clearly one or the other. There is a different feel to those songs written by Ronnie Lane such as Show Me The Way, Something I Want To Tell You and Green Circles. Itcyhcoo Park, arguably the band's best-known track was mostly written by Ronnie Lane, although Marriott sings the lead vocals. Steve Marriott contributed the middle-eight "I feel included to blow my mind, get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun" as well as the line "I get high. Mischievousness was never far away! Itchycoo Park became the band's biggest hot after All or Nothing, reaching number three in the UK during the Summer of Love.

However, it is the follow-up to Itchycoo Park which provided more of a classic even if it did not reach so high in the singles charts. Tin Solider is the most popular track, by far, according to readers of the Small Faces Web site Room for Ravers. This was more than a four-piece band at their very best. Immediate label-mate PP Arnold joined the band on backing vocals and added a crucial dimension to the song with her soulful voice. This is three minutes of total perfection. 

Ian McLagan steps up as a writer with Up The Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire. Mac was already showing himself to be a major asset to the band with his Booker T Jones-inspired Hammond playing. The Hammond also featured heavily on the band's instrumental tracks such as Happy Boys Happy which appears on this album.

The album represents a real mix of styles and influences. The R&B of the early album is still evident through tracks like Talk To You and Happy Boys Happy, the latter an instrumental with Mac in his best Booker T Jones form. There were also signs of what was to come on the next album, the classic Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. The East End roots of the Small Faces may have become evident in the hit single Lazy Sunday, a track the band did not want released as a single. The music hall style was present on Small Faces where Marriott adopts the style of a Cockney Leonard Sachs to introduce "The darling of Wapping Wharf Launderette - Ronald Leafy Lane!" Lane then turns crooner for All Our Yesterdays.  

Tracks from this album were already being covered in the 1960s. Chris Farlowe had a major hit with My Way of Giving while Apostolic Intervention with future Humble Pie member Jerry Shirley made their Immediate Records debut with their version of (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me.

This is an essential part of any 1960s music collection and the greatly-improved sound quality on the latest incarnation certainly makes it a worthwhile purchase.

Release Date: May 2012

Universal Music

Essential Tracks from original album):

  • (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
  • Get Yourself Together
  • Eddies Dreaming

Essential Tracks (Added tracks)

  • Tin Soldier
  • Don't Burst My Bubble
  • I'm Only Dreaming

Track Listing:

CD1

  1. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
  2. Something I Want To Tell You
  3. Feeling Lonely
  4. Happy Boys Happy
  5. Things Are Going To Get Better
  6. My Way Of Giving
  7. Green Circles
  8. Become Like You
  9. Get Yourself Together
  10. All Our Yesterdays
  11. Talk To You
  12. Show Me The Way
  13. Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire
  14. Eddies Dreaming

Additional Tracks

  1. Here Comes the Nice
  2. Itchycoo Park
  3. I'm Only Dreaming
  4. Tin Soldier
  5. I Feel Much Better
  6. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me (Alternate Mix)
  7. Eddies Dreaming (Alternate Mix)
  8. Green Circles (Take 1, Alternate Mix)

CD2

  1. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me (Stereo version)
  2. Something I Want To Tell You (Stereo version)
  3. Feeling Lonely (Stereo version)
  4. Happy Boys Happy (Stereo version)
  5. Things are Going To Get Better (Stereo version)
  6. My Way of Giving (Stereo version)
  7. Green Circles (Stereo version)
  8. Become Like You (Stereo version)
  9. Get Yourself Together (Stereo version)
  10. All Our Yesterdays (Stereo version)
  11. Talk To You (Stereo version)
  12. Show Me The Way (Stereo version)
  13. Up the Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire (Stereo version)
  14. Eddies Dreaming (Stereo version)
  15. Just Passing (Stereo version)
  16. Itchycoo Park (Stereo version)
  17. Here Comes The Nice (Stereo version)
  18. Don't Burst My Bubble (Stereo version)
  19. Things are Going To Get Better (Alternate version)
  20. I Can't Make It (Session version)
  21. Green Circles (Alternate Take 2)
  22. Tin Soldier (Stereo version)
  23. (If You Thing You're) Groovy (Backing track)

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