Saturday, June 28, 2014


The Small Faces are the great lost band of London.  While all their equal contemporaries became huge stars, fate conspired against the group.  That, plus a few bad decisions too (not touring the U.S. was a big one).  Their recording legacy is a mess because of label and management politics, crappy deals and bad mixes.  Finally after years of this, it's all being straightened out, and hopefully this will let us appreciate the fine music they did manage to make.

There Are But Four Small Faces was the first album by the band released in North America, but the third in England (under the title of Small Faces).  It also had a few different cuts, thanks to the usual singles and E.P. differences.  It was a good time for the band, as they had started take more control of their recordings, signing with England's Immediate label, which gave them studio control.  So the rush-in, rush-out recording was over, and the group started experimenting with studio effects and more complicated arrangements.  The writing team of Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott was at their peak as well.  The group's sole North American hit, the druggy Itchycoo Park is featured here, as well as another thinly-veiled reference to the group's favourite pastime, Here Comes The Nice.  Get Yourself Together highlighted the R'n'B side of the band, and shows why they are considered the best of the mod groups in England, even above The Who of that time.

This is the first I've seen of the new reissues and remasters of the Small Faces catalogue, and it's extremely well-down.  It's a two-disc set in a book-style case, with extensive notes, and some good bonuses.  Disc one has the original album, and disc two has a previously-unissued mono mix, always fun to hear for the 60's vibe.  There are a handful of different mixes as well, altogether a first-class presentation, and hopefully will do the trick of bringing the Small Faces up a notch in these parts.

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