Small Faces Story Part 10
by Stuart Wright
While the Small Faces debut was peaking at No. 3 in the LP charts, the band made a cracking appearance on Germany's Beat, Beat, Beat pop show performing four numbers in late July 1966. At the start of August, the Small Faces released the irresistibly catchy and anthem-like All or Nothing. Their new single was a marked departure from their previous offerings. All or Nothing was less frenzied than, say, Hey Girl, but Steve's singing was more mature and soulful than ever before.
But when the song was previewed on David Jacobs' show Juke Box Jury it was given the thumbs down. Steve commented: "We ordered champagne when All or Nothing was voted a miss. That wasn't sour grapes on our part. It's just that we learned through experience not to put any faith in Juke Box Jury verdicts! They voted What'Cha Gonna Do About It a miss and it was a hit and I've Got Mine a hit and it was a miss" So there you go!"
A little known fact about All or Nothing is that it actually slipped through the censor's net. The song was rather risqué for its day as it was about a bloke trying to make a girl! All or Nothing went on the knock the Beatles' Yellow Submarine off the top of the UK charts to give the Small Faces their first number one and confirm their position as the country's hottest new act.
In the July/August edition of The Small Faces Fan Club newsletter, the secretary, Pauline Corcoran, reported that the band's new album and follow-up to the hugely successful Small Faces would be released in November 1966. The newsletter also reported that one of the songs on the forthcoming LP would feature an operatic intro by the band's notorious manager, Don Arden. The track in question turned out to be a cover of the Del Shannon hit Runaway, which didn't actually see the light of day until about a year later on Decca's compilation of hits and left-overs, From the Beginning.
Steve Marriott hinted at the band's new move away from rhythm & blues during an interview with Brian Matthew on the BBC radio show Saturday Club. he stated that the band was experimenting with electronic sounds. In another interview Ronnie Lane said that among the numbers the band had recorded for the new album were That Man, In My Mind's Eye and a track called (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me? This track apparently came about when Ronnie played a track from their first album backwards, liked what he heard, and came up with the tune!
The nature of the tracks in question suggested that the Small Faces were progressing fro the R 'n' B roots towards tentative psychedelia. As Ronnie put it, "Towards the end of 1966, we were becoming more thoughtful and psychedelic! Phew! I got spiked at a party thrown by the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. Anyway, this guy came out with a plateful of oranges which were cut into quarters. He passed them around to all guests and I thought, this is a bit weird, funny party, ain't it? So I thought I'll have a bit of this orange and I took a piece and I took it at the same time as everybody else did, y'know. But about half an hour later, things started to happen, y'know. I didn't know if I'd been given anything or what was happening. I didn't know if I was coming or going! And it was quite horrific at the time but it then turned into something that was quite beautiful!"
Ronnie was probably more influenced by the psychedelic experience than any of the other Small Faces, "Ronnie was looking for the meaning of life." Steve explained. "He wanted more purpose out of life, I suppose which is hard for anybody who's searching for something, especially when your two best mates are a pair of piss-artists like me and Mac! Ronnie had this peach and a daffodil, which he worshipped, and a scroll which was meant to be his soul. When he was out one night, Mac squashed the daffodil and I ate the peach. Then we burned the scroll! Yes, when Ronnie got meaningful, he had to be brought back down to earth!"
Part 11: The problems with stardom
Previously published in Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette Issue 5
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