'Small Faces' and 'From The Beginning'
The Small Faces were one of the premier guitar groups of the 60s, and alongside The Who, led the Mod/Rock 60s sound. They were also one of the main influences on the 90s Britpop scene.
Formed in 1965 by Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenny Jones (later of The Who) and Jimmy Winston, they signed to Decca in 1966 and released these two albums, 'Small Faces' and 'From The Beginning', before signing to Immediate and finding further fame.
These two releases, originally released on Decca, feature an improved sound and are pressed on heavyweight 180g vinyl, with replica artwork, making for lovely items and collection essentials.
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The Small Faces formed in East London in 1965, featuring vocalist/guitarist Steve Marriott, bassist Ronnie Lane, keyboard player Jimmy Winston and drummer Kenny Jones. Many early live sets gave a hard edge to soul and R'n'B covers and their energy soon saw them to signing with manager Don Arden who then saw the band signed with Decca.
The name Small Faces came from a diminutive stature and "a face" being someone of note, a name.
The band's debut was a cover of 'Wat'cha Gonna Do About It', with a memorable guitar riff borrowed from 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love'. The single was a success and the band released a number of further singles and became a serious live draw, and the eponymous debut (the first album here) sold well.
Problems within the band (especially Winston's attitude) allegedly led to the latter's firing, replaced by Ian McLagan.
Drug problems within the band were worsened by Don Arden's management and the band split with both Arden and Decca. The band's second album 'From The Beginning' was effectively an unofficial compilation featuring all their hits (including several non album singles) and demos, some of tracks the band were working on for their second album.
The band subsequently signed to Immediate and released 'Small Faces' (not to be confused with the debut), 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' and 'The Autumn Stone', before splitting. 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' is probably the band's most celebrated release, its distinctive circular sleeve part of the tobacco tin parody.
With Marriott joining Humble Pie, the rest continued with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood as The Faces.
The Small Faces reformed from 1975 to 1978, after which Kenny Jones joined The Who. Steve Marriott died in 1991, Ronnie Lane in 1997 and Ian McLagen in 2014; all had become renowned both with and since The Small Faces.
The band's eponymous debut album was recorded between June 1965 and February 1966 and opens with 'Shake', a punchy number with some great guitar sound, although the production is a little muddy. 'Come On Children' is a blistering number with Jones having a real thrash (easy to see why he later joined The Who).
'You Better Believe It' and 'It's Too Late# are very typical of the time, fitting in between The Who and The Rolling Stones, with a more stripped down sound. The debut single closes side one, and with borrowed riff or otherwise, it's still a great, fuzzy and catchy rendition.
Side 2 continues in similar fashion, and 'Sorry She's Mine' is a bright starter and 'You Need Loving' a slower, chunky and bluesier number. The keyboards are quiet in the mix but do sound good.
Album closer 'Sha La La La Lee' is another belter, closing on a high note.
'From The Beginning', as aforementioned, is largely a compilation, featuring non album singles and works-in-progress. This can be considered contractual as the band soon decamped to the Immediate label and further acclaim and success. Opener 'Runaway', the Del Shannon classic, is a good version and showcases McLagan's keyboards.
There are several tracks from the debut, and mix well with others, including 'My Mind's Eye' (some good vocal harmonies) and 'Yesterday Today And Tomorrow' (which is a little Beatle-esque).
While it's unusual for a compilation/new tracks compilation, especially as a second album, but I can tell you it's worth it in this case.
The debut is so full of classics and with non-album singles being so good, it just works.
The music business is a funny old game, and yes the band did get Ardened early on, but the music remained fantastic.
These two LPs sound fantastic, well, as well as the original production would allow, and come with MP3 download codes.
Definitely for vinyl fans, but also this music shows the roots of a lot of 60s/70s rock and 90s pop.
From The Beginning