Making Time Review September 2001
Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is one of the classic
albums of the 1960s. It is also widely regarded as one of the first concept
albums although only the second side (of the original LP) could be considered as
such. The Small Faces had evolved from playing some of the hottest R&B
around to more of a psychedelic sound. This was partially enabled by their move
from Decca to Immediate Records. Immediate may have been a disaster financially
but it did give the group all the studio time to experiment and branch out into
But the innovation was not just in the music. The
LP came in a circular cover that folded out to reveal pictures of the band. This
sleeve had been duplicated on some of the CD releases of the album. The title of
the album was taken from Ogden's Nut Brown Flake, a popular brand of rolling
tobacco with the sleeve designed to look like a tobacco tin. "Brown"
was changed to "Gone" to represent the state that the band often found
There were already indications of a new direction
from the Small Faces with recent singles including Here Come The Nice, Itchycoo
Park and the glorious Tin Soldier. A taster for the album was Lazy
Sunday. Probably the best-known song on the album, the group was unhappy
about its release as a single as they believed it made them into a fun group.
With a degree of hindsight the single highlighted the group's sense of humour
without making them a joke band. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake fused the group's
R&B with psychedelia, drugs references and Cockney music hall reflecting
their East End roots.
Side one consists of unlinked tracks with the
aforementioned Lazy Sunday and Afterglow outstanding. The title
track that opens the album is an instrumental version of an earlier single I've
Got Mine. Afterglow is a beautiful song hardly rated by Marriott.
Keyboard player Ian McLagan chips in with Long Agos and World Apart. Rene
goes back to the East End of London again. The East End was London docks and
Rene would hang around there "groping with a stoker from the coast of Kuala
Lumpur." A couple of the tracks show the
heavier direction that Steve Marriott, in particular appeared to be moving
towards. Song of a Baker and Rollin' Over are classics.
Lazy Sunday tell the story of Marriott's
problems with his neighbours. They banged on the wall constantly because he
played his music so loud. Was this complaining justified? Very much so it
The second side (or tracks 7-12 on the CD) make
up a story with narration by Professor Stanley Unwin. The story tells of
Happiness Stan who is looking for the other half of the moon. Unwin's narration
links the songs beautifully in his inimitable way. Kenney Jones is currently
working on animated version of the story. The songs are made to fit the story
but also stand up in their own right as fun tracks. The final track Happy
Days Toy Town is the only song to mention All Bran as far as I know!
Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake combines a quirky and fun
style with some of the greatest pop songs ever written.
What a mindblast!