Small Faces: Reissues

There Are But Four Small Faces / Greatest Hits The Immediate Years 1967 - 1969

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Two newly upholstered and expanded reissues from the East End Mod Kings' spell on Immediate present welcome reconsideration of their glory days.

**Steve Marriott and co may have started out as plucky bantamweights, but strong appeal to teenyboppers and fashion heads didn’t prevent the creation of boundary-expanding rock’n’roll. **

Itchycoo Park, the first track on the first album for label Immediate (run by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham) showed how, with the revolutionary use of phasing to capture the mind-expanding nature of the content of the song. Recorded at Olympic Studios with its massive soundstage, eight track console, esteemed producer Glyn Johns and engineer George Chiantz, the dividends of their have-go-experimentalism remain timeless, fearless, funny and defiant.

Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan’s involvement in these handsomely presented collections preserve an easily overlooked legacy, while the brilliance of the late Ronnie Lane/Steve Marriott song writing partnership springs eternal.

For fiery directness, invention, gleeful wit and vaulting musical ambition, future Faces bassist and Slim Chance frontman Ronnie ‘Plonk’ Lane and the former child actor/future Humble Pie frontman Marriott are still an unbeatable combination. Has there ever been a drug song as zealous and euphoric as Here Comes The Nice? Or a more companionable new-meets-old generation knees-up than Lazy Sunday? Even the dreamy and patchouli-scented revery of The Universal remains resolutely and reassuringly earthbound.

Unlike contemporaries The Stones, The Who and The Kinks et al, The Small Faces never cracked, or even played, the states during their lifetime.

The conga and horn strafed Eddie’s Dreaming, their happily spaced-out tribute to Georgie Fame trumpeter Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ (a fellow stoner), highlights their herbally and chemically-enhanced feel for adventurous studio exotica. But, badly shaken after a tempestuous 1968 tour of Australia, where he adjudged his band’s onstage prowess inferior to headliners The Who, Marriott suggested bringing in Peter Frampton on second guitar for live purposes. The others baulked, and with no US representation Immediate didn’t push the issue. Even so, the SFs native wit and vibrancy made an impression on key transatlantic listeners, from KISS to The Black Crowes, and their true Brit originality was given international recognition with 2012’s not-before-time induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame… in tandem with The Faces.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.