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Rock - Released May 24, 1968 | Sanctuary Records

There was no shortage of good psychedelic albums emerging from England in 1967-1968, but Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake is special even within their ranks. The Small Faces had already shown a surprising adaptability to psychedelia with the single "Itchycoo Park" and much of their other 1967 output, but Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake pretty much ripped the envelope. British bands had an unusual approach to psychedelia from the get-go, often preferring to assume different musical "personae" on their albums, either feigning actual "roles" in the context of a variety show (as on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album), or simply as storytellers in the manner of the Pretty Things on S.F. Sorrow, or actor/performers as on the Who's Tommy. The Small Faces tried a little bit of all of these approaches on Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, but they never softened their sound. Side one's material, in particular, would not have been out of place on any other Small Faces release -- "Afterglow (Of Your Love)" and "Rene" both have a pounding beat from Kenny Jones, and Ian McLagan's surging organ drives the former while his economical piano accompaniment embellishes the latter; and Steve Marriott's crunching guitar highlights "Song of a Baker." Marriott singing has him assuming two distinct "roles," neither unfamiliar -- the Cockney upstart on "Rene" and "Lazy Sunday," and the diminutive soul shouter on "Afterglow (Of Your Love)" and "Song of a Baker." Some of side two's production is more elaborate, with overdubbed harps and light orchestration here and there, and an array of more ambitious songs, all linked by a narration by comic dialect expert Stanley Unwin, about a character called "Happiness Stan." The core of the sound, however, is found in the pounding "Rollin' Over," which became a highlight of the group's stage act during its final days -- the song seems lean and mean with a mix in which Ronnie Lane's bass is louder than the overdubbed horns. Even "Mad John," which derives from folk influences, has a refreshingly muscular sound on its acoustic instruments. Overall, this was the ballsiest-sounding piece of full-length psychedelia to come out of England, and it rode the number one spot on the U.K. charts for six weeks in 1968, though not without some controversy surrounding advertisements by Immediate Records that parodied the Lord's Prayer. Still, Ogdens' was the group's crowning achievement -- it had even been Marriott's hope to do a stage presentation of Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, though a television special might've been more in order. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 20, 2019 | G Records

Rock - Released May 11, 1966 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Just when the first-generation British Invasion bands galloped ahead into pop art in 1966, the Small Faces worked a heavy R&B groove on their 1966 debut. That's not to say that this pack of four sharp-suited mods were unaware of the times. If anything, no other British band of the mid-'60s was so keenly tuned into fashion, the four Small Faces capturing the style and sound of dancing pilled-up mods better even than the Who, possibly because the group could carry a groove better than the Who, as this tightly propulsive debut amply illustrates. Like many '60s debuts, The Small Faces is split between covers, songs the label pushed on the band, and originals, some clearly interpolations of songs they'd been covering in clubs. "Come on Children" echoes James Brown's "Think," and "You Need Loving" is based on Willie Dixon's "You Need Love." Later, Led Zeppelin would rework the Small Faces' "You Need Loving" into "Whole Lotta Love," and while it's easy to hear how Steve Marriott's raw-throated howl influenced Robert Plant as much as Marriott's heavy shards of guitar influenced Jimmy Page, what's striking about The Small Faces is that there is very little blues or rock & roll here: it's all hard-charging, driving R&B and soul, the emphasis all on the groove. By stressing the beat, the Small Faces carry themselves over some slight songwriting -- the band's energetic interplay carries them over the rough spots between "It's Too Late," "What'Cha Gonna Do About It," and "Sha La La La Lee," and that concentration even pushes them into trailblazing territory, as on the lean, ominous pulse of "E Too D." Such moments keep The Small Faces sounding fearless and fresh even when by other respects it is very much a record of its time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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This 36-song double-CD set covers most of the group's released songs from Decca, minus one song ("I Can't Make It") that they lost the rights to, and augmented with a handful of solo tracks by Steve Marriott and songs by Jimmy Winston's band. The sound is fair -- none of the Decca songs by any band from this period seem to be in great shape -- but not earth-shattering; what is earth-shattering is the performance of Marriott and company, especially on their earlier tracks. Despite being worked to death by the record company and their own touring schedule, and their rapidly growing disillusionment, they generated some incredibly passionate British Invasion-era R&B, embracing Stax and the more soulful sides of Motown with equal ease. The later material shows the first appearance of the druggy ambience and psychedelic haze that was to characterize their Immediate period, not surprising since they moved from Decca to Immediate in a matter of days, the moment they had enough material to satisfy (at least on paper) their Decca contract, with some songs ("E to D," etc.) shared in different versions between the two companies. The packaging is a bit unwieldy, however, and while the photos are great, Paolo Hewitt's well-intentioned notes seem driven more by enthusiasm than care or skill (not only is the connection between "You Need Loving" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" debatable, but he gets the title of the Zeppelin song wrong, referring to it as "Whole Lotta Lovin'." © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 20, 2020 | Rarity Music

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Rock - Released June 2, 1967 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Small Faces split from manager Don Arden to sign with Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label and, in retaliation, Decca and Arden rounded up the remaining recordings the group made for the label and released them as From the Beginning. Appearing just months before their Immediate debut -- entitled The Small Faces, just like their first album for Decca -- From the Beginning includes early version of "My Way of Giving" and "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me," and it reprises songs that were on the 1966 Decca LP ("Sha La La La Lee," "What'cha Gonna Do About It"), moves that muddy an already confusing situation. And From the Beginning really doesn't play as a cohesive album by any stretch of the imagination, as it opens with a burst of burgeoning psychedelia then doubles back to the group's early R&B, flaws that matter less as years pass by because, on a track by track basis, there is a lot of wondrous material here. Like many of their peers, the Small Faces began to dabble in LSD in 1967 and their sonic horizons broadened considerably, something that is evident on "My Mind's Eye," "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," and "That Man," swirling songs that hint at the band's developing pop inclinations without abandoning their hard R&B underpinning. Other songs -- "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me," "All or Nothing,"" "My Way of Giving"-- arrive at the midway point between the psych-pop and Mod R&B, just as the Immediate Small Faces LP would just a few weeks later, and these are nervy, energetic gems that find a nice counterpart with the pure soul songs bunched at the end. It's an odds and ends record to be sure but From the Beginning offers too much top-notch material to be dismissed; in fact, in many ways, it's a flawed gem from the swinging '60s © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | Sanctuary Records

The Autumn Stone was the only double LP in the history of Immediate Records, and it came out as the company was entering its death throes, a desperate effort to cash in on the library of tapes of the Small Faces. When lead singer Steve Marriott quit in the waning days of 1968, the group had been midway into recording a new album that would have been its third for the label and a follow-up to 1968's popular Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Left high and dry by Marriott's departure, and with an uncertain future ahead for the group, the company elected to release the first anthology of the Small Faces' work. The result was The Autumn Stone, a mix of hit singles (going all the way back to their Decca Records years, with "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" and "All or Nothing") and up through their final 45, "The Universal," plus three songs recorded live at Newcastle Town Hall in early 1968, a bunch of album tracks, and some unissued tracks from the tail-end of their history, presumably intended for their third, never-finished Immediate LP. It was the first (and, for over 20 years, the best) overview of the group's work and history, depicting its transition from a white British Invasion-era soul band to a more laid-back and experimental psychedelic outfit. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 7, 2020 | Rarity Music

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Pop - Released June 23, 1967 | Sanctuary Records

This is where the already-confusing Small Faces discography gets baffling. Designed for the American market in 1968, There Are But Four Small Faces is based upon their 1967 self-titled album for Immediate Records -- the album that should not be confused with the 1966 album called Small Faces on Decca -- but shuffles the running order considerably, cutting out seven songs from the 1967 LP and then adding five songs released on singles: the hits "Itchycoo Park," "Tin Soldier," and "Here Come the Nice," plus the B-sides "I'm Only Dreaming" and "I Feel Much Better." Contrary to the pastoral setting pictured on the album art, this rejiggering preserves the edgy mods of the 1967 album Small Faces, emphasizing their pop propulsion, artful soul, and furious rock & roll. By some measures, the 1967 Immediate LP is their best -- it's adventurous, bright, colorful, and concentrated, the brevity of the songs playing like snappy pop art -- and that essence is here, enhanced by "Tin Soldier," "Here Come the Nice," and "Itchycoo Park," the three greatest singles the band ever cut. As an introduction, it's first-rate, whether it was delivered in 1968 or decades later. [Charly's 2014 reissue of There Are But Four Small Faces contains the stereo mix on the first disc, supplemented by four bonus tracks, while the second contains the "promotional DJ version" mono mix of the album and three bonus tracks, all different than the cuts on the first CD. The stereo bonus tracks have alternate takes and mixes of "Eddie's Dreaming" and "Show Me the Way," an early mix of "Get Yourself Together," and an alternate take of "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me." The mono bonus tracks contain a TV backing track for "Tin Soldier," the "USA Version" of "Here Come the Nice," and an alternate mix of "Green Circles." Most of this is collector ephemera but the mono mix is indeed appealingly punchy and perhaps a better way to listen to this music.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 10, 1967 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released June 4, 2021 | nice records

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Pop - Released October 15, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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The Small Faces split from manager Don Arden to sign with Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label and, in retaliation, Decca and Arden rounded up the remaining recordings the group made for the label and released them as From the Beginning. Appearing just months before their Immediate debut -- entitled The Small Faces, just like their first album for Decca -- From the Beginning includes early version of "My Way of Giving" and "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me," and it reprises songs that were on the 1966 Decca LP ("Sha La La La Lee," "What'cha Gonna Do About It"), moves that muddy an already confusing situation. And From the Beginning really doesn't play as a cohesive album by any stretch of the imagination, as it opens with a burst of burgeoning psychedelia then doubles back to the group's early R&B, flaws that matter less as years pass by because, on a track by track basis, there is a lot of wondrous material here. Like many of their peers, the Small Faces began to dabble in LSD in 1967 and their sonic horizons broadened considerably, something that is evident on "My Mind's Eye," "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," and "That Man," swirling songs that hint at the band's developing pop inclinations without abandoning their hard R&B underpinning. Other songs -- "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me," "All or Nothing,"" "My Way of Giving"-- arrive at the midway point between the psych-pop and Mod R&B, just as the Immediate Small Faces LP would just a few weeks later, and these are nervy, energetic gems that find a nice counterpart with the pure soul songs bunched at the end. It's an odds and ends record to be sure but From the Beginning offers too much top-notch material to be dismissed; in fact, in many ways, it's a flawed gem from the swinging '60s © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 11, 1966 | UMC-Decca

Just when the first-generation British Invasion bands galloped ahead into pop art in 1966, the Small Faces worked a heavy R&B groove on their 1966 debut. That's not to say that this pack of four sharp-suited mods were unaware of the times. If anything, no other British band of the mid-'60s was so keenly tuned into fashion, the four Small Faces capturing the style and sound of dancing pilled-up mods better even than the Who, possibly because the group could carry a groove better than the Who, as this tightly propulsive debut amply illustrates. Like many '60s debuts, The Small Faces is split between covers, songs the label pushed on the band, and originals, some clearly interpolations of songs they'd been covering in clubs. "Come on Children" echoes James Brown's "Think," and "You Need Loving" is based on Willie Dixon's "You Need Love." Later, Led Zeppelin would rework the Small Faces' "You Need Loving" into "Whole Lotta Love," and while it's easy to hear how Steve Marriott's raw-throated howl influenced Robert Plant as much as Marriott's heavy shards of guitar influenced Jimmy Page, what's striking about The Small Faces is that there is very little blues or rock & roll here: it's all hard-charging, driving R&B and soul, the emphasis all on the groove. By stressing the beat, the Small Faces carry themselves over some slight songwriting -- the band's energetic interplay carries them over the rough spots between "It's Too Late," "What'Cha Gonna Do About It," and "Sha La La La Lee," and that concentration even pushes them into trailblazing territory, as on the lean, ominous pulse of "E Too D." Such moments keep The Small Faces sounding fearless and fresh even when by other respects it is very much a record of its time. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Pop - Released January 1, 2001 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Rock - Released May 1, 2015 | UMC-Decca

The Small Faces were at Decca for 18 months -- long enough to become stars, long enough to sow the seeds of a legend, long enough to cause enough confusion that would color said legend over the decades. The Small Faces left Decca when they left manager Don Arden, the towering impresario who signed the group when they were still in their teens, gave them enough cash to seem flush, found them songs he owned the publishing to, and looked the other way when the boys popped pills. Once the parents of Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Ian McLagan stepped in, ties were severed and the band bolted to Immediate, the label run by fellow teen mod renegade Andrew Loog Oldham, so Arden retaliated by cobbling together From the Beginning, a collection of singles, covers, and demos for tunes that would soon show up on their near-simultaneously released Immediate debut The Small Faces (the same title as the group's 1966 Decca debut, for those trying to keep track at home). While the band began galloping toward the psychedelic present on their final singles for Decca -- "My Mind's Eye" is a lysergic journey and "All or Nothing," their first number one, seems eager to shake off the confines of rock & soul -- the switch in labels provides a neat division between the group's early and mature work, so while Universal's 2015 box The Decca Years 1965-1967 lacks the band's biggest and best hits ("Here Come the Nice," "Itchycoo Park," "Tin Soldier," "Lazy Sunday," "The Universal," "Afterglow of Your Love," a run as good as any other British band of the '60s), it nevertheless provides an intensely concentrated blast of the band's mod peak and provides a useful companion to 2014's box Here Come the Nice, which it mirrors to the point of opening with a disc of "Greatest Hits" (aka the singles) before delving into the familiar and the rare. Although the period it covers isn't the band's peak, The Decca Years trumps Here Come the Nice by virtue of not focusing entirely on the unheard, a move that fates the 2014 set to the dedicated. These five discs contain all the singles, along with the two complete albums (alas, with none of the bonus tracks -- largely mono mixes, but some alternates -- from the 2012 reissues), a disc of BBC sessions, and a disc of rarities. Generally, the sound is improved from the 2012 reissues -- punchier, heavier, emphasizing how the group kicked up a bottomless groove (not much can save the shaky audio of the BBC sessions, though) -- and if there are duplications here, well, that's just part and parcel of listening to the Small Faces; even when they're given attentive care, there's no eliminating the mess. More than the various reissues or compilations, The Decca Years 1965-1967 winds up showcasing just what made the Small Faces special. Where the Who often seemed hell-bent on a stylish destruction, the Small Faces partied, laying into Sam Cooke with abandon, delivering the Arden-forced trifles with more wallop than they deserved, creating a noise so unholy Led Zeppelin ripped it off ("Whole Lotta Love" steals as much from Steve Marriott as it does from Willie Dixon) and then, just as these 18 months drew to a close, delivering a wildly original blend of pop art, overamplified soul, and impassioned rock. Here, on this big and sometimes unwieldy box, that evolution is not only clear, but seems vital. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Castle Communications

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Pop - Released October 15, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

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Folk - Released March 28, 2007 | Hammer Musik

Rock - Released June 28, 2019 | Vintage Jukebox

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