Small Faces Part 1- The Decca Recordings (1965-1967)

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Small Faces Part 1- The Decca Recordings (1965-1967)

Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:58 am

First off, I tried to post this over in the new Reviews section, but for some reason it wouldn't allow me to attach photos, only polls. I want to do a small tribute to one of my all time favorite bands: Small Faces. This first part will concentrate on their recordings for the UK Decca label which spans the time period 1965 through early 1967. I’ll follow this up with a brief history of their Immediate Records period, which spans the period early 1967 through their breakup in early 1969. I realize that to many of our European members, the Small Faces may not be considered an obscurity. Here in the US, however, they failed to make an impact, with the exception of one single, until the later incarnation of the band featuring Rod Stewart & Ron Wood.

Sadly, the two albums below never saw a release in the US. Three of the Decca singles had been released in the US on the Press label (a subsidiary of London Records) and another two were released on RCA. None, however, made an impression as far as sales were concerned. Outside of the singles, the majority of their music from this period that was released in the US appeared on shoddy compilations in rechanneled stereo. Another issue that doomed the original Small Faces in the US was the fact that they never toured here. While nearly everything they released in the UK broke the top ten, they would languish in obscurity in the US until the release of “Itchycoo Park” in the summer of 67.

The original Small Faces consisted of Steve Marriott (guitar, vocals); Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals); Jimmy Winston (organ); and Kenney Jones (drums). Winston would be replaced by Ian McLagan in late 1965 after the release of their second single.

In my opinion, the music contained on these discs ranks right up there with the best of the British Invasion. In Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, Small Faces had a songwriting team that could certainly stand proudly with the best that Britain had to offer at the time including Lennon / McCartney; Jagger / Richards; Ray Davies & Pete Townshend. In Steve Marriott they had arguably one of the best vocalists in the history of rock. Even in his teens, Marriott could put most of his peers to shame.

The Singles: Small Faces released a total of 8 singles on the Decca label. They are as follows:

1. What’cha Gonna Do About It / What’s A Matter Baby (Decca F 12208; 8/65)– their first record release contained a brilliant a-side and is a fabulous showcase for Marriott’s vocals and a guitar solo reminiscent of early Pete Townshend.

2. I’ve Got Mine / It’s Too Late (Decca F 12276; 11/65)- A superb single that gives an early glimpse into the brilliance of the Marriott & Lane partnership. The b-side would later appear on their debut lp.

3. Sha-La-La-La-Lee / Grow Your Own (Decca F 12317; 1/66)- After their previous single failed to crack the top ten, manager Don Arden insisted that someone else write the A-side of their next single. A happy-go-lucky pop song that, frankly, pales in comparison to its predecessors, it nonetheless put Small Faces back in the top ten.

4. Hey Girl / Almost Grown (Decca F 12393; 5/66)- Released concurrently with their debut lp, the A-side is a bouncy rocker and another Marriott / Lane original while the b-side is an instrumental reminiscent of mod favorites Booker T. & The MG’s.

5. All Or Nothing / Understanding (Decca F 12470; 8/66) - Unquestionably one of the finest moments in the Marriott / Lane songwriting partnership, All Or Nothing packs an emotional wallop. It also gave them their first Number 1 hit in Britain.

6. My Mind’s Eye / I Can’t Dance With You (Decca F 12500; 11/66)- A lovely little pop tune on the A-side with a fantastic non-lp b-side showcasing both Marriott’s powerful vocals and some heavy duty drumming from Kenney Jones. There are actually two versions of this single. The first features an early demo of the a-side. Released by Don Arden while the band were on the road, they happened to hear it on the radio one day while traveling. Upon their return to the UK, they re-recorded a more “professional” sounding version of the track and the single was re-released. The earlier version is notable for a rawer sound and the guitars being quite loud in the mix. The second version would later appear on the second Decca lp.

7. I Can’t Make It / Just Passing (Decca F 12565; 3/67)- This single is actually their first recording after being signed to Immediate management but released by Decca as a means of fulfilling contractual obligations. The A-side was banned by the BBC for its alleged sexual overtones and Decca put no promotion behind it as they knew they were losing them as an act. Therefore, the track received very little exposure and sank quickly thereafter.

8. Patterns / E To D (Decca F 12619; 5/67)- The band’s final single on the Decca label was an unauthorized release that was put out several months after the band left Decca for Immediate. Possibly the most dreadful song in the Small Faces catalog (and in this writer’s opinion, one of the worst songs by anyone), this single was quickly withdrawn and didn’t chart. The B-side is an alternate version of a track from their debut lp.

Note: the picture sleeve below is actually a Danish single, the remainder are UK releases. Note the differences in the Decca label design.
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Last edited by fromphilly1247 on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:23 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:59 am

The Albums:

Small Faces (Decca LK 4790; 5/66) – A fantastic debut lp that confirms that the Small Faces were one of the most exciting bands in the UK at that time. Kicking off with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” (featuring both Lane & Marriott on vocals), the band wastes no time letting you know where they’re coming from. The second track, the exhilarating “Come On Children”, is one of the finest showcases for Marriott’s vocals on record. Sounding a lot like their big brother band The Who on this track, Marriott proves that not only has he absorbed the nuances of all of those US soul records that were so popular with the Mod kids, but that he was going to leave his own stamp and not merely imitate. Other highlights of the record include “You Need Loving”, the vocals of which Robert Plant would later cop for Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. While the Small Faces are equally guilty of ripping off old blues singers here (the writing credit for the track is given to Marriott / Lane), Muddy Waters never delivered the track quite like this. One listen to this track and there’s no mistaking it. According to Marriott, Plant was often in attendance at the early Small Faces shows as a young mod kid. The rest of the album stands the test of time very well over four decades later.
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Last edited by fromphilly1247 on Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:02 am

back cover & label of first lp:
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:03 am

From The Beginning (Decca LK 4879; 6/67) – A cash-in effort by Decca released just three weeks prior to Small Faces “proper” second lp (on the Immediate label), this album collects assorted singles, leftovers from earlier sessions and, interestingly, earlier versions of tracks that would later show up on their first Immediate lp. While somewhat of a hodge-podge, it’s still essential for your Small Faces collection. Note that the band is wearing the same clothing as they were on the cover of the first lp.
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Last edited by fromphilly1247 on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:05 am

back cover & label of 2nd lp
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:06 am

The French EP’s: There were a total of 5 Decca EP’s released in France by Small Faces. I have three. Several contain alternate versions of the tracks, making them even more desirable from a collector’s standpoint. The beautiful sleeves certainly don’t hurt, either.
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Last edited by fromphilly1247 on Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by fromphilly1247 » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:07 am

My apologies for the poor picture quality. One of these days I’m going to invest in a scanner.
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Post by Kimmo » Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:55 am

great stuff, fromphilly! Small Faces releases are surely something everyone to look for - great music, and records very collectible ones! Good call!

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Post by Felonious » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:24 pm

Thank you fromphilly both for the photographs and your notes. Excellent piece of work.
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Post by Takboleh » Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:46 pm

Small Faces are great i manage to get some of their stuffs too but not on Decca.Thanks.

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