Guide to British Music of the 1960s

June 2019

CD / LP Review: The Small Faces - Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake 50th Anniversary Edition

CD/DVD Edition

Vinyl Edition

 

The 50th Anniversary Edition of Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is available as a 3-LP or 3-CD+DVD set. The LP set is pressed in red, blue and white vinyl. These comprise mono and stereo versions of the album and a third LP of rarities. There is also a booklet with notes by Mark Paytress, rare photographs and interviews.

Small Faces fans have been privileged in recent years but the superb reissues of classic material. Not only have the remasters improved the sound quality of the original music but they have been beautifully packaged with additional tracks and well presented books. This is a great time to listen to the Small Faces.

The 50th Anniversary set of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake certainly maintains the quality of previous releases or exceeds it! Two versions are available for vinyl or CD enthusiasts. Each version has three discs, the album in mono, in stereo and a third disc of outtakes and rarities. The CD set also includes a DVD of the 1968 BBC Colour Me Pop performance and the Lazy Sunday promotional film. Each package includes a book with numerous photographs, notes by Mark Paytress and other curios. It is a great read in itself.

Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is an iconic album. In his recent autobiography drummer Kenney Jones said the Small Faces were the most creative group he played in. This is where they reached a peak of creativity. It can also be suggested that the difficulty in following this was one of the reasons for the band's split. After moving to Immediate Records, the Small Faces had already had success with three incredible hit singles - Here Come the Nice, Itchycoo Park and Tin Soldier. The band had been given virtually free rein in the studio where they could pursue more innovative directions. The sound had already moved away from the soul and R&B of the Decca years through the near psychedelia of Itchycoo Park. With experimentation rife, the Small Faces brought a whole variety of sounds and musical styles to the new LP. Listen out for more unusual instrumentation such as Mac on harpsichord and a string section on the title track. The harpsichord, harp and orchestral parts are very clear on the Happiness Stan backing track.

It was almost as if the group were going in several directions at once and this gives the album its variety. There is the heavier sound of Rollin' Over and Ronnie Lane's Song of a Baker, the music hall style of Lazy Sunday, Rene and Happydaystoytown. A folk element emerged primarily on side two with songs like Mad John. The Small Faces may have had the greatest British vocalist with Steve Marriott but Ronnie Lane takes the lead on several songs showing himself to be more than capable and a great partner to Marriott. Steve Marriott himself shows his vocal versatility with his rock style on Rollin' Over, a folkier side on Mad John, a natural Cockney on Lazy Sunday or Rene and then there the incredible vocal performance on Afterglow.

Side two of the album was the concept. Ronnie Lane had suggested a story based around looking for the other half of the moon, as the moon waxes and wanes. Songs were written to tell the story. However, they wanted it to be tied together with a narrative. Spike Milligan was their first choice but, when he was unavailable, they turned to Stanley Unwin who they had heard narrating a peanut butter commercial. This was an inspired choice and his use of "Unwinese" made the album particularly unique.

Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake has been released in many forms over the years. Improvements in technology have meant that the sound quality has improved all the time. Now with digital technology allowing improvements such as removing background noise means that this 50th Anniversary edition takes the quality to a new level. Tapes have been resourced to ensure that the best quality is available as the starting point too.

This tremendous improvement in sound quality is very noticeable and a key result is that not only do all the instruments sounds clearer and distinctive but some sounds come clear where they have previously been muffled or even hidden. It also becomes evident that the Small Faces were very good musicians and the quality of Ronnie Lane's bass playing is especially audible. Check out The Journey for a very melodic bass sound. Kenney's drums, in addition, are much clearer and more punchy. Steve Marriott never considered himself to be much of a guitar player. He wanted Peter Frampton to join the band so he could focus on his vocals. However, Marriott shows that, like his vocals, he is more than capable in turning his guitar playing to different styles from a heavy solo in Song of a Baker to the whimsical folk of xxx.

The first two discs highlight the improvement in sound quality but the third CD is especially interesting with different versions of the songs. The US version of Afterglow, for example, appears to have reverb on Marriott's incredible vocals giving the song a very different sound. A similar effect is present on Ian McLagan's Long Agos and Worlds Apart. There are a coupe of true curios. Every Little Bit Hurts was a cover version that was in the live set. It is perfectly suited to Steve Marriott's soul voice. A version is also available by the Spencer Davis Group where Steve Winwood also showed his incredible soul voice. (If You Think You're) Groovy was written by Steve and Ronnie for PP Arnold. The Small Faces played and performed backing vocals on the track and, without PP Arnold's vocals, the backing track is 100% Small Faces. It would have been nice to hear this with Steve Marriott singing lead vocals as that would have been amazing too. However, listen to PP Arnold's version for a WOW performance of the song.

The DVD is an excellent addition. The BBC broadcast Colour Me Pop in the new colour television format. It showcased many of the innovative artists of the day. Many clips are regularly still shown on the BBC and on YouTube although it appears that only the Small Faces and the Move have survived in their entirety. The band performed live vocals to a pre-recorded backing track making the appearance semi-live. However, the footage does capture the excitement of the Small Faces live act. This new DVD has much improved sound quality. Starting with Ronnie Lane's powerful Song of a Baker, the show then comprises the whole of side two of Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake complete with introduction by Stanley Unwin. Included in the show but not in the "live" segment is current single Lazy Sunday for which Peter Whitehead's promotional film is shown. Much of this was filmed in the garden of Kenney's parents' house. There is very little of the Small Faces live available so this set is very welcome. Just how cool is Ronnie Lane?

Whether you choose the vinyl or CD versions, Charly Records has done a superb job of updating this amazing record. The package itself is a joy to open and hold even before a note has been played. The Small Faces have a lasting legacy that shows they were one of the most creative groups of the 1960s.

CD / LP Release: 19 October 2018

19 October 2018

Essential Tracks

  • Song of a Baker
  • Happiness Stan
  • Rollin' Over

Track Listing: 

Disc One Mono

  1. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake
  2. Afterglow
  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

Disc Two Stereo

  1. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake
  2. Afterglow
  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

Disc Three

  1. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (Early Session Version - Mono)
  2. Afterglow (Alternative USA Mix)
  3. Long Agos and Worlds Apart (Alternative USA Mix - Stereo)
  4. Rene, The Dockers' Delight (Early Session Mix)
  5. Song of a Baker (Alternative USA Mix - Stereo)
  6. Lazy Sunday (Alternative USA Mix - Stereo)
  7. Every Little Bit Hurts (Early Session Mix - Mono)
  8. Happiness Stan (Backing Track - Mono)
  9. Bun in the Oven (Early Session Mix)
  10. The Fly (Take 4 - Instrumental Version - Stereo)
  11. The Journey (single version)
  12. Mad John (Take 7 - Backing Track - Mono)
  13. Mad John (single version)
  14. Happydaystoytown (Alternative USA Mix - Stereo)
  15. Kamikhazi (Take 7 - Backing Track - Mono)
  16. Every Little Bit Hurts (early session mix)
  17. (If You Think You're) Groovy (Backing track)
  18. Afterglow of Your Love (Alternate single mix)
  19. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (Alternative Take - Phased Mix - Stereo)

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