Guide to British Music of the 1960s

May 2012

CD Review

The Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake

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This is without doubt one of the iconic albums of the 1960s, if not of all time. Originally released in 1968 with the members of the Small Faces barely out of their teens, Ogden's Nut Gone Flake was ground-breaking in many ways. Before even listening to the LP the original packaging was striking. The vinyl LP was packaged in a round cardboard sleeve similar to the tobacco tin on which the design was based. This was quite striking but is did cause a problem for record retailers as the LPs tended to roll off the shelves!

Ogden's has been released in a number of CD forms over the years including a 3-CD set in a replica tobacco tin. So what is different about this latest incarnation? Quite simply, this is the best version that has been made available. The remastering has ensured that this classic album has a clarity of sound like never before. Turn up the volume and every instrument in crystal clear. What this highlights more than ever before is the musical ability of every member of the band. They may have been young but they played like never before, everyone at their peak and producing new sounds.

The previous album The Small Faces had shown a transition from the storming R&B of the debut album to a experimental and almost psychedelic style. Ogden's took this further with a plethora of influences from English music hall to folk music and there were early signs of heavy rock. Starting with the instrumental Ogden's Nut Gone Flake this album is clearly something different. Based on the band's second and unsuccessful single I've Got Mine this opener has powerful keyboard sounds that give it a truly epic style. These powerful chords lead in to the acoustic guitar opening of the classic love song Afterglow (Of Your Love). This is a typical Steve Marriott effort showing that is not is not just a superb singer but someone who could write highly sentimental lyrics almost like a sequel to Tin Soldier. Ian McLagan's Long Agos and World Apart changes the style again, starting quieter and with guitars and even sounds like a Cockney knees-up in places.

A further development of the music hall and East End influence in clearly evident with Marriott's Rene. This is the tale of a "lady" from the East End who was known for entertaining dockers and visiting sailors, possibly even young lads like the Small Faces too. The track shows Marriott in mischievous mode but capturing the essence of the East End.

One of the "heavier" tracks and a sign of Ronnie Lane's developing deeper thinking is Song of a Baker. Starting with some powerful guitar work, the lyrics take the listener back to the very essence of life and making bread or is it deeper than that?

Side one of the original album ended with possibly the best-known track and the hit single. Lazy Sunday was written by Steve Marriott about the problems he was having with his neighbours (or more likely the problems they were having with him). It was a bit of a joke but not one the band wanted released as a single as they felt it was not representative of what they were doing and would promote them as a "joke" band when they were developing in a different direction. It remains one of their best-known tracks and most-liked singles though.

Side two or track 7 is where everything changes. This was pre-Tommy although the Beatles had already experimented with concept albums with Sergeant Pepper. Based on a idea from Ronnie Lane, the series of songs tells the tale of Happiness Stan and his search for the other half of the moon. Alongside the superb songs a genius move was persuading Stanley Unwin to provide narration in his own goobledegook style. He was not the band's first choice though; that was Spike Milligan. The band gave him the outline of the story and some "cool" words and phrases to use. His narrative linked the songs and made the album unique. The songs themselves were generally a different direction with numerous hints of English folk music. The use of the harpsichord in Happiness Stan was not the first instance of this instrument. Ian McLagan had previously used the harpsichord on The Small Faces.

There is drastic change as the heavy Rollin' Over assaults the ears. A taste of what was to come later with the development of heavy rock. Rollin' Over was very different to the other songs making up the Happiness Stan story but this does not diminish its value and its role as a key stepping stone in the development of heavier rock.

The remainder of the Happiness Stan story describes his quest to find the other half of the moon. The linkage between the songs fits perfectly, the Englishness of the folk sound perfectly matched by the English eccentricity of Stanley Unwin's prose. Of course, Stan does find the other half of the moon and the album ends with the celebratory Ronnie Lane track Happydaystoytown. Again this shows the mischievous side of the Small Faces with the song in pure East End knees up style. "Life is just a bowl of all bran. You wake up every morning and it's there."

And so the story of Happiness Stan comes to a happy conclusion. Two versions of the album are included here, mono and stereo. The third disc, disc two, contains alternative versions as well as one previously unreleased track, Kamikhaze. This is an instrumental that has not been available before. The questions will always go on though about what is still in the vaults and unreleased. There is the near mythical Be My Baby and a Small Faces' version of (If You Think You're) Groovy. There is talk of a boxed set to come so it will be interesting to see if this does appear and what will be on it.

Release Date: May 2012

Universal Music

Essential Tracks from original album):

  • Song of a Baker
  • Rollin' Over
  • Afterglow (Of Your Love)

Track Listing:

CD1 The Mono Album

  1. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
  2. Afterglow
  3. Long Ago 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

CD2 Bonus Tracks

  1. Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake – Early Session Version
  2. Afterglow (Of Your Love) – Alternate USA Mix
  3. Long Agos And Worlds Apart – Alternate USA Mix
  4. Rene – Early Session Mix
  5. Song Of A Baker – Alternate USA Mix
  6. Lazy Sunday – Alternate USA Mix
  7. Happiness Stan – Backing Track
  8. Bun In The Oven – Early Session Mix
  9. The Fly – Take 4 Instrumental Version
  10. Mad John – Take 7 Early Session Version
  11. Happydaystoytown – Alternate USA Mix
  12. Kamikhazi – Take 7 Backing Track Version
  13. Every Little Bit Hurts – Early Session Mix
  14. Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake – Alternate Take Phased Mix

CD3 The Stereo Album

  1. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
  2. Afterglow
  3. Long Ago 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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