Complete Modness, Select Magazine, September 1996
Britpop parka cabal celebrates the scooter-driven wonders of the Small Faces.
As Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones has often remarked, the story of the matching mod quartet is one of immense tragedy. Stitched up by unscrupulous management, frontman Steve Marriott left in 1968 at the height of their fame, and neither he nor the Faces that followed recaptured the original magic. When Ronnie Lane was already too ill with multiple sclerosis to take part, an ill-judged '70s reunion involved the tall bassist from Foreigner. Marriott died in a house fire in 1991, and with Lane struggling to pay Texan medical bills, the breezy stylishness of Itchycoo Park seems far away.Hence this well-timed tribute album to help out the ailing
Plonk, and contrary to the usual grimness of tribute albums, there's much to recommend it. Mataray's I've Got Mine threatens like The Who at their most paranoid, while the 60ft Dolls turn The Universal into woozy, country-style pub rock - just like Steve would have wanted - before going all hallucinogenic courtesy of guest axeman Martin Carr. Even better, PP Arnold (backing vocalist on Tin Soldier in 1968, continuity fans) and Primal Scream make b-side track Understanding into a loose slice of Tamla
stampage, with her voice closer to Marriott's r n b shout than any OCS groin-straining or Nigel Dodgy yelps. A Gallagher should be on here, you suspect, but Weller's instrumental Home Grown gives the guvnor's stamp of approval. If there's occasional lapses into Stars in their Eyes over-faithfulness (Gene, Whiteout), be thankful the threatened Blur cover of Lazy Sunday never made it. Pawning the one-off nature of the band's white soul heyday, none of these solid covers really improve on the originals but as a demonstration of continuing affection and esteem for the East End
modfathers, it's strangely heartwarming. You'd think Ronnie's well-off '60s chums could have rallied round more. But in sober retrospect, a nostalgic showcase would have stymied the top mod spirit of a band who never had a chance to spoil their own legend.
Soundbite: "There may be only four Small Faces, but they've go lots of admirers."
"They're up there with The Beatles!" Why the stars dig The Small Faces.
Steve Craddock, Ocean Colour Scene: "The LP's partly done as a money thing for Ronnie, but primarily it's out of respect. We were speaking to PP Arnold about some of her tunes, and she's going, 'oh, I never heard that one. I was doing it in the studio and had a row with Rod Stewart, so we never spoke again. I thought we never finished it!' I'm like, 'but I've got the
fuckin' track back at home. I listened to it last Friday!' When I first met her she said she hadn't even got any of her own albums, so the next day I went and got
'em for her - like 'ere you are!
People like that forget what they've done. If I'm honest, people like that and The Small Faces have made me what I am. It's the lifestyle. People in Germany say to us, 'Isn't it too much about the 60s lifestyle?' Y'know this is a guy who'll sit around in fucking gothic clothes all day listening to Aretha Franklin. They don't see it. In England, when you grow up and you're into music, it's a life thing. It's how you do your flat out, it's your clothes, your scooter. It's like our music is better than anybody else's. That's The Small Faces."
|Matthew Priest, Dodgy: "Small Who? If you haven't heard of The Small Faces by now.. then you should have. The hardest thing wasn't which track to pick, but which mix. We settled on the live version we did at the end of our LP session."
||Andrew Innes, Primal Scream: "Lie the best ideas, we hatched this one in a pub. Even though Throb's leg was still in plaster (after his bike accident) we still got him down to the studio."
|Bobby Gillespie: "We had the opportunity just after recording to play live on TV and I bottled out….Just listen to her voice. You can't compare to that."
||Kev Miles, Gene: "Ronnie's song Debris inspired For The Dead. Much more than a pop band - they're up there with The Beatles for me."
|Steve Mason: "I've nicked much off The Small Faces and The Faces, this is really no skin off my nose. We chose The Autumn Stone, the last song they recorded, because it was slow and acoustic like our style. It was a very romantic thing to do. You could tell Steve Marriott meant it all, true to the cause of letting his soul sing bright and loud."
||Leon Meya, Northern Uproar: "The Small Faces are one of our favourite bands. We wanted to support Ronnie Lane to try and make up for all those sharks who ripped him off over his royalties. We chose My Mind's Eye cos it was the last tune on offer cos all the rest were taken
Ride: "They weren't the most
successful '60s band, or the prettiest. But they had the best clothes,
best singer and best 'dustbin-in-a-back-alley' drum fills. They also had
the songwriting/production genius of Marriott and Lane, and the spot-on
beauty of Ian McLagan's bar-room Booker T keyboards. They accidentally
left behind the perfect blueprint for anyone who ever wanted to play
soul music in a rock 'n' roll band."