A Guest Post From Josh P
Now my Dad criticises me for having a penchant for “crap”, whether this be obscure foreign players for Wolverhampton Wanderers or second-rate albums from our mutual favourites.
Most recently I have provoked this ire within him for having taken a shine to the two obscure reunion albums by 60’s mod-legends Small Faces at the back end of the 1970’s. With the collapse of Humble Pie and the implosion of the Small Faces’ successor, the Faces (soon to the irritation of Ronnie Lane, latterly billed as ROD STEWART and the…) the original charmers and blue-eyed soul men of Whapping Wharf Launderette were left in limbo.
Alas, the surprise charting of 1967’s “Itchycoo Park”, reissued in 1975, into the UK top ten set the wheels of a reunion of one of the most successful band of 60’s Britain into motion. Yet like most things in the troubled life of their charismatic frontman Steve Marriott, it was not without major hiccups along the way. Fellow songwriter and bassist Ronnie Lane walked out of the band’s first rehearsal after allegedly pouring scorn over the latest offerings by Steve and a rumoured punch-up saw the band’s iconic line-up depleted then augmented by bass player Rick Wills from Roxy Music and Jimmy McCulloch who walked out on Paul McCartney’s Wings to team up with the East London boys after a drinking session with Marriott.
What followed were two second-rate albums by a group that once sat at the same table as The Beatles, The Who and The Kinks for originality, creativity and units sold to an enthusiastic public eager to receive their message. Occasionally the song writing showed glimpses of their former glories, keyboardist Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan’s sweet mid-tempo ballad “Tonight” and Steve’s brazen opener “High and Happy” from the boys’ first offering, 1977’s “Playmates”, being the stand-out tracks, much of the content can be described as fillers at best. A similar tale dogs their second attempt at recapturing something like their 60’s heyday with “78 in the Shade”, with numbers like “Over Too Soon” and “Stand By Me (Stand By You)” whipping up the listener into crisp-guitar and organ-driven frenzy, only to be subsequently baffled by the closer “Filthy Rich”, where Marriott bitterly complains to a music-hall backing in his best Mockney accent how he isn’t “famous like his best mates are” – who’s idea was it to include this?
Lightweight production and a confusing country and western tinge to many of the numbers must have left those few ardent fans who bought these two albums feeling extremely short-changed upon return of their heroes, especially after the high-powered output of the two bands that followed the original run of the Small Faces. Whilst not without their charm, these LP’s would only be of any value to the completest and should no way be used to introduce new fans to such a fabulous group.