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The Ultimate Collection


Released: 26 May 2003

Highest UK Chart Position: 24

Track listing:

The Decca Sessions
1. What'cha Gonna Do About It?
2. I've Got Mine
3. It's Too Late
4. Sha-La-La-La-Lee
5. Grow Your Own
6. Hey Girl
7. Shake
8. Come On Children
9. You Better Believe It
10. One Night Stand
11. Sorry She's Mine
12. Own Up Time
13. You Need Loving
14. Don't Stop What You Are Doing
15. E Too D
16. All Or Nothing
17. Understanding
18. My Mind's Eye
19. I Can't Dance With You
20. I Can't Make It
21. Just Passing
22. Patterns
23. Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow
24. That Man
25. Baby Don't Do It

The Immediate Sessions
1. Here Comes The Nice
2. Talk To You
3. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
4. Things Are Going To Get Better
5. My Way Of Giving
6. Green Circles
7. Get Yourself Together
8. Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire
9. Eddie's Dreaming
10. Itchycoo Park
11. I'm Only Dreaming
12. Tin Soldier
13. I Feel Much Better
14. Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
15. Afterglow (Of Your Love)
16. Song of A Baker
17. Lazy Sunday
18. Rollin' Over
19. Mad John
20. Happy Days Toy Town
21. The Universal
22. Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass
23. Wham Bam, Thank You Mam
24. Don't Burst My Bubble
25. The Autumn Stone

Uncut June 2003

* * * * *

Amazingly, this is the first collection to reach a publishing truce allowing the Faces' early R&B work on Decca to sit alongside their later Immediate recordings of pastoral, psychedelic white soul. An obvious concept, a great coup and one hell of a 50-track two-CD set. From 1965's opening What'Cha Gonna Do About It (covered by the Sex Pistols) to the blues explosion of You Need Loving (a blueprint for Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love) and Tin Soldier (Paul Weller's Magna Carta), the pioneering influence on display here almost goes without saying. If life really is "just a bowl of All-Bran," these two discs hold the fibre. (Simon Goddard)

Classic Rock, July 2003

For many people who were there at the time, the abiding memory of the Small Faces is one of the seemingly ubiquitous groups who helped shape and define the sound and style of Britain's Swinging Sixties, and providing - initially at least - a sharp-dressed major emblem for contemporary Mods. Along with the likes of the Kinks and the Who - although, along with everybody else, several tiers below the unassailable aristocracy that was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones - The Small Faces made a significant and indelible contribution to the soundtrack of that remarkable era.

Whereas the Kinks (a dozen top ten hits - all absolutely unforgettable) and, to a lesser extent, the Who (who notched up nine) were mostly about songs, the Small Faces (seven) were - with one or two exceptions- more about style.

Formed in East London in June 1965, they began as an energetic pop R&B outfit, with Steve Marriott's belted out, arresting vocals and teen-heartthrob good looks a key element. later, coinciding with a switch from Decca to then Stones manager Andrew Oldham's Immediate label, their records became more experimental and sophisticated and the production more complex, the thinly disguised drugs references in their '67 Immediate debut single Here Come the Nice and the epochal classic Itchycoo Park hinting at the new well from which the group were now drinking for inspiration. And although remembered mostly for their hits, for many fans the Small Faces' 1968 chart-topping concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake remains a classic of the time.

Ultimate Collection is a two-CD, 50-track compilation that covers the group's entire, short career from their first hit WhatCha Gonna Do About It in 1965 to their split four years later (after which Marriott went on to front Humble Pie; while still in the Small Faces he was briefly in the frame for the vocalist slot when Jimmy Page was putting led Zeppelin together). The Small Faces' back catalogue has been repackaged to exhaustion, with dozens of compilations since then, but this is the first one that has successfully negotiated the troublesome hurdle of groups' output being on two different labels and brought together the best material from both, and also has the benefit of high quality remastering and input on track selection by the group's two surviving ex-members. As you might expect, it includes all of their hits.

Disc 1 fishes exclusively from the pool of the group's period on the Decca label, from late '65 to early '67. All half dozen hits from then are here - WhatCha Gonna Do About It, Sha La La La Lee, Hey Girl, All or Nothing and the less-remembered My Mind's Eye and I Can't Make It - but apart from those the rest are a so-so much of a muchness and, except for some b-sides will be unfamiliar to those who never investigated the Small Faces beyond their singles. 

Similarly, of Disc 2's catchment from the more exotic waters of the group's Immediate years, apart from the hits - the memory-etched Itchycoo park, Tin Soldier, Lazy Sunday and the more forgettable Universal and Afterglow of Your Love (what?) - there are not enough occasions to make anyone really kick themselves for only having listened to the group at 45rpm.

***** Paul Henderson

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