THE SMALL FACES – IN FOCUS

'60s mod icons, their early discs reviewed


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about The Small Faces over the years. All of the original Small Faces blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from ’60s music magazine ‘Music Parade’.

THE SMALL FACES – ”My Mind’s Eye” / ”I Can’t Dance With You” (Decca F.12500) November 1966

The Faces should have no trouble following up their number one hit ”All Or Nothing” with this lyrical, beaty and seasonal Steve Marriott – Plonk Lane composition. The story line is a deep well thought out comment – far more philosophical than ”Sha-La-La-La-Lee” ever was and Marriott handles it gently with the rest of the group zinging behind him.

A nice hymn based chant rides the song out finally on a Christmas-like note. The Faces are definitely aiming for a wider audience with this disc and full marks for their courage.

Flip ”I Can’t Dance With You” is a groovy hang up in the Billy Preston bag which should satisfy wilder fans.

UK Chart Position: 4

(27/05/17)

THE SMALL FACES – ”All Or Nothing” / ”Understanding” (Decca F.12470) August 1966

A powerful drum intro by Kenny Jones, then the Faces are off on a medium-paced, but still explosive entreaty for ”All Or Nothing”. Gone is the incredibly happy mood of their past two great hits, and the Faces are in soul searching groove, reaching into themselves, sparing neither vocal chords nor guitar and drumming ability. It’ll be another smash for Steve, Plonk, Mac and Kenny.
(Record Mirror review – August 1966)

”All Or Nothing” was played as the requiem at Steve Marriott’s funeral in 1991.

UK Chart Position: 1

(27/05/17)

THE SMALL FACES – ”Hey Girl” / ”Almost Grown” (Decca F.12393) May 1966

Up-tempo belter, with some great singing from Steve Marriott, perhaps the boys’ best yet. They get such a big instrumental sound, with concise beat going. Don’t worry about the lyrics concentrate on the catchiness, melodically. Flip is equally big sounding, good guitar, instrumental.
(Record Mirror review – May 1966)

Steve Marriott said in a radio interview with Brian Matthew for the Saturday Club Radio Show.
”Hey Girl” was written in a hotel room at six in the morning.”

UK Chart Position: 10

(27/05/17)

THE SMALL FACES – ”Sha-La-La-La-Lee” / ”Grow Your Own” (Decca F.12317) January 1966

The Small Faces third single went Top 3 during the early months of 1966. It was released late January. Written by Kenny Lynch, it’s a great little pop number with throwaway lyrics but with a memorable hook line and instant appeal.  The record made them a household name, got them very popular with the girls and a teenybopper tag.

The B-Side is a raver – blissful Hammond organ mod instro.

UK Chart Position: 3

(25/05/17)

THE SMALL FACES – ”Whatcha Gonna Do About It” / ”What’s A Matter Baby” (Decca F.12208) August 1965

Debut disc raver from The Small Faces which delivered a knock-out mod punch on it’s way to reaching #14 in the UK Charts. ”Whatcha Gonna Do About It” is heavily inspired by Solomon Burke’s ”Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”. Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane had already come up with the melody but had no lyrics. These were provided by Ian Samwell who is best known for writing Cliff Richard’s big hit ”Move It”

The song features unmatched vocals from Marriott and hammond organ from original member Jimmy Winston who would leave to follow a solo career.
The other side ”What’s A Matter Baby” is a solid beat number with soulful vocals.

There are numerous versions of ”Whatcha Gonna Do About It” including 1967 takes by American groups The Litter and The Evil. Over in Sweden, The Best may have recorded the fastest version and The Tages the slowest. Seems to have been popular in Scandinavia as both The Hitmakers and Joe E Carter & the Group recorded it in Denmark. 

Speaking of a really good version there is of course Tom Thumb from New Zealand (which was coupled by an even cooler You\’re Gonna Miss Me) and then there\’s a cool live performance by The Remo Four from Beat Club in Bremen.

UK Chart Position:14

(23/05/17)

THE SMALL FACES – ”Small Faces” LP (Decca LK 4790) May 1966

How did the Small Faces get their name?
Just one look at them is sufficient to see that they do indeed have small faces.

The Small Faces were formed in the East End of London, and within ten weeks of their formation had a SMASH hit with their record ”What’Cha Gonna Do About It”.

Even at this early stage in their career they were acclaimed as the most exciting group on the scene,
It took the Small Faces many months of hard work developing their own unique sound to produce this, their first LP.

The tracks on this album represent the Small Faces as they like to be heard.

Steve Marriott – lead guitar and vocals
Steve was born in Stepney. He first played ukulele, and then graduated to the guitar. He played a star part in ”Oliver” at the age of twelve, and then went on to play parts in films and on television.

Ronnie ”Plonk” Lane – bass guitar and vocals
Ronnie, or ”Plonk” as he is usually known, was born in Plaistow, East London. He started work in a fair-ground, and it was there that he took up the guitar.

Kenny Jones – drums
Kenny was born in Stepney. At the age of 14 he obtained a second hand drum kit and taught himself to play. He worked in a musical instrument shop until the Small Faces were formed.

Ian ”Mac” McLagan – organ, guitar and vocals
Ian was born in Hounslow. First of all, he played guitar with a semi-professional group, then switched to organ, and is now rated as one of the leading organists in the country.

(21/05/17)

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