The Small Faces ~ So I’ll Just Groove Along Quite Naturally

December 5, 2014

In Memory of Ian McLagen  – 1945 – 2014

Are you sitty comfy bold two square on your botty?

Then I’ll begin………

Long before Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood got together to form the Faces in the early 70’s there was a pop group in England called The Small Faces who  formed in the early 60’s and had hits glore in the UK.

Original members included singer Stevie Marriott who had a spit~in~your~eye attitude leading on three other renegades ~ Ronnie “Plonk” Lane on bass, Kenney Jones on drums, and Ian McLagen on keyboards. The latter three were to join Rod the Mod and Ronnie Wood in the Faces after the Small Faces broke up and Stevie Marriott went on to form Humble Pie. The Faces first album First Step was released in the USA as the Small Faces.

They were called The Small Faces because they were all no taller than 5′ 6″ and they performed some of the most raucous R&B and soulful music this side of the Wapping Wharf with influences such as Booker T & the MGs, Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke. They also looked good with a great image, and were the Mod kings of swinging London,  the boys had clothing accounts at all the best shops in Carnaby Street while the rest of us Mods & Rockers fought it out in Brighton.   

The Small Faces early hits are classic slices of Mod Pop, ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’, ‘ Sha La La La Lee’, and ‘All or Nothing’ all released on Decca Records. By 1967 the groups songwriting had began to mature and a change of record label from Decca to ex Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s new Immediate Records allowed them to not play live so much and have more studio time and artistic freedom just like the Beatles with Sgt. Pepper as the flower power era dawned.

Starting with ‘ Here Comes The Nice ‘ The Small Faces blazed a spectacular coloured soundscape across the sky. The truly remarkable Itcycoo Park (their only US hit) was followed next into the charts by Tin Soldier. This is my all time favourite song, full of passion it still today explodes out of the speakers with former Ikette  P.P Arnold on backing vocals spurring on Stevie Marriott to one of the greatest UK soul performances ~ ever!

Everyone nowadays talks about Pete Townsend and Ray Davies being the great spokespersons and class observers of the British 60’s generation  but I think we should take our hats off to Stevie and Ronnie as great songwriters as well!

I remember buying ‘Lazy Sunday’ with Stevie’s cockney voice and the great sound effects on the record while staying at my Aunt Alice’s in Bournemouth on the south coast of England and I must have driven her crazy playing that song and the B side ‘ Rollin’ Over ‘ maybe over a thousand times that Easter weekend.

Their last single to just make it into the Top 30 was ‘ The Universal ‘ and what a truly unique record it is! Partly recorded in Stevie’s back garden with dogs barking in time it features a crazy clarinet part and a Chet Atkins style guitar solo and it’s totally uncommercial but they still made it on to Top of the Pops for a memorable performance.

Like most of the British bands from the 60’s the Small Faces 45 rpm records have great B ~ sides like ‘ Talk to You’ with a powerful passionate Marriott vocal and ‘ I’m Only Dreaming ‘ a beautiful love song with a light arrangement and once again sang with great soul by Mr. Marriott.

B~side ‘ I Feel Much Better ‘ starts with Ronnie Lane’s bass ~ the baddest sound this side of the Watford Gap with P.P. Arnold once again supplying the backing vocals and a great fade at the end of the record. ‘ Rollin’ Over ‘ comes on like a steamroller coming at ya with a killer brass section and Kenney Jones really showing what a great drummer he is and Ian McLagen as melodically inventive on the keyboards as ever and on top of all that another epic vocal from Stevie Marriott.                                         

Donkey Rides A Penny A Glass ‘ always reminds me of my school holidays at my Dad’s caravan on the Essex coast on those hot summer days! grooving along quite naturally. Brilliant!

Then to top it all off and to light the candles on their cake the boys produced the classic  ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake ‘ album released on May 31st 1968. I remember that day was full of sunshine as I travelled to Barking in Essex by bus to buy this extraordinary record with its round artwork sleeve ( a first ) and  the fairy~tale story of Happiness Stan on Side Two of the record narrated by Stanley Unwin in his own strange but unique Unwinese language taking us all off to another world!. This album sounds fantastic in mono.

A brilliant album full of great songs and east end music hall humour that was overlooked in North America but which is full of the a deep joy and thorkus, a great laugh ‘n’ tittery for the heart as Stanley would say.

God bless em all!       Long ago and worlds apart

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A Young Person’s Guide to What’s Important in Life

September 5, 2013

REBELLIOUS MUSIC

Music is for young people and it plays an important part in our growing up and youth. There is nothing better than seeing an exciting live concert with your mates and enjoying yourself. The music you love in your teens will stay with you for the rest of your life. The teenager has played a strong role in changing attitudes in fashion and our parents throughout the decades. Looking back it started with the young girl teenager audiences call bobby soxers that swooned over the first teen idol Frank Sinatra in the 1940’s and wore the poodle skirts and rolled their socks down to their ankles.

Then came Elvis Presley and rock n roll in the mid 50’s and he changed everything drawing from his country roots as well as black Rhythm & Blues which really upset the establishment and when he first appeared on the Ed Sullivan TV show he could only be seen from the waist up as his wiggle of the hips was thought to be too sexual and might cause a riot! which is what the teenagers really wanted. Great to see the old black & white footage of Elvis doin’ this thing! and driving the young girls crazy! Sad he let them cut his hair and joined the army.                     

Then the Beatles hit the world in the early 60’s and made everything that came before them look out~of~date overnight and the world has not been the same since and rightly so, but it seems that all generations including today’s youngsters love the mop tops and we certainly sell more Beatles stuff in the store than anybody else. Finally for the first time since the second world war the economy was getter better all the time (it couldn’t get much worse) and the British teenagers had some money in their pocket and spending power for records and clothes and anything their parents didn’t like the youngsters loved. ha ha

Enter the punk scene in the mid 70’s as a reaction to the pomp of stage shows by Led Zeppelin and Sex_PistolsPink Floyd, you didn’t need to know how to play the guitar or drums just get up there and make a noise! With the Sex Pistols and the Clash leading the charge out of the UK with a rebellious sneer on their faces and a brand new fashion look which is still around today and still looks brilliant! Joe Strummer who never made a bad record leading the Clash to America and beyond and Johnny Rotten who was the perfect front man as the band imploded behind him just like it always would somewhere in the States and it’s a shame Sid Vicious took it all too serious as Malcolm McLaren made off with the money.

Now it’s your turn young people.


Record store becomes hub for music lovers

May 11, 2013

 

It’s only rock n roll but I like it !

The year was 1969. I was 16 and had just landed a job as trainee recording engineer in London, England’s hot music industry

This was the land of the British Invasion, and I was wide-eyed at its bright lights, big city nerve centre.

Zoom forward 10 years and it’s 1979.                                         

I was with Polydor Records, finding and developing new artists, working with musicians such as Paul Weller and The Jam, Ian Dury, Billy Fury and my proudest signing of the time, the Comsat Angels, who have attained cult status over the years.

Those were heady times. In the midst of it, I decided to take a holiday to visit my uncle in Canada. He was living in Edmonton, which was . well. ‘nuf said.

But we took a side trip to Banff and Jasper and there I lost my heart – to those rocky mountains!

I returned to England and jumped back into that intoxicating world of the music business, but a little piece of me remained behind in Canada.

Some years later, I was at a crossroads in my career and wondered about rekindling that old romance – this time with commitment.

My uncle agreed to sponsor me and I immigrated to Canada in 1994. Trouble was, my uncle had since moved to Toronto and my mountain love was nowhere to be seen.

“If you want mountains, you have to go to the west coast,” he told me.

So, I packed my car and drove through the states until I was on the other side of the continent.

I was staying with a friend in Vancouver (loving the mountains, but still unsettled) who talked me into a fish ‘n’ chip supper in Steveston.

I didn’t want to go, but he insisted. Not only did I fall in love with what reminded me of an English seaside village (only surrounded by some awesome mountain), I saw a place where I could join that sense of home with the kind of work that makes me sing out loud – music.

I opened the Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston in October 2005.

As the name implies, it’s all about music, but it’s not just about commerce. It’s a place to talk music, honour artists of the past and present, and have a face-to-face experience with music lovers.

Recently, a couple of kids came in asking about Jimi Hendrix – I love that.

So while HMV and other big record stores close and the world moves to digital and downloading, I’ll continue to stock vinyl albums of the Beatles to Billie Holliday, posters from Jimi Hendrix concerts – along side Carly Rae Jepsen and Josh Groban CDs.                   

It might sound corny, but I see myself as a keeper of rock and roll history.

That said, anything worth keeping is also worth sharing with others, which is why I’m excited about the opportunity to write this column, “Talking Tunes,” for the Richmond News.

It will be a blend of . comedy, drama, history and humour! And maybe one or two horror stories.

Frankie Neilson owns Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston and is responsible for starting the summer music series, Music At The Cannery,

Richmond News ~ May 2013

 
 
 

Read more: http://www.richmond-news.com/entertainment/Record+store+becomes+music+lovers/8369766/story.html#ixzz2T0VshCcJ


Vancouver Province Newpaper Beatmerchant Article

December 2, 2012

 

Aura of British invasion at Beatmerchant

 
 
 
By Tom Harrison, The Province July 2012
 
 
Don’t tell Beatmerchant the CD is dead.

Besides CDs, the tiny shop in Steveston has racks of vinyl, DVDs, books, posters and – for some reason – a selection of tea and coffee mugs. There are other stores in the Lower Mainland such as Zulu, Red Cat, Scratch and Neptoon. Each seems to specialize, so it’s no surprise that there is a British Invasion aura about Beatmerchant, that carries over to its selection of CDs. There are a lot of English imports in stock.

This implies a knowledge of music – British at least – and a sympathy for the record buyer/collector. Want that rare Pretty Things single? Beatmerchant has (or had) it.

This is especially warming for the long-time record consumer who’d heard nasty rumblings that the CD is dead. Stuck with their CD habit, averse to downloading, the inveterate collector has been forced to order CDs online and will for as long as CDs are made. Right now, Vancouver hasn’t a single chain where new CDs can be bought. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If CDs sales are plummeting, it’s because nobody can buy a CD. They have no choice but to shop online . . . providing they know for which they’re shopping. Which is another attraction of Beatmerchant et al.: Browsing.

One of the pleasures of record shop-ping used to be discovering, while browsing, records in the racks you didn’t know about or never thought you’d find. As well, some of my greatest guilty pleasures are records I bought because they were in the delete bin and cheap. Beat-merchant has a relatively small selection of CDs and vinyl at reduced prices.

The store is located in the corner of a mall at 12240 2nd Ave.

Read more of my posts about local music at blogs.theprovince.com.

© Copyright (c) The Province

45 rpm ~ A Single Pop Revolution

October 4, 2011

I love the 7 ” inch records that play at 45 rpm (which means ~ revolutions per minute). I have 4000 or so of the blighter’s and in the days before Sgt. Peppers and the then huge sales of LPs ( Long Players) these were the iPods of their day!         

Very simple, they are just an A side and a B side on a 7 ” vinyl record called singles and came  in a record company paper bag.   The big companies in the UK in the 60’s were Decca, Pye, EMI, RCA and  Philips

These records were played on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and at the Beeb, sold at local  record stores and their sales made up the music charts of the day in  the UK .

 Teenagers loved them!

On  Thursday evenings the whole family would sit down in front of the telly and watch “ Top of the Pops ” the weekly chart show with DJs (Disc Jockeys) like Jimmy Saville with his long white hair from out of a bottle and a cigar in one hand and a 45 in the other telling us what group or singer had moved up the chart that week. Other DJs on the show were Pete Murray, Stuart Henry and the one and only Tony Blackburn, also let’s not forget Pan’s People dancing up a storm.      

On Friday evening we would watch the stylish Cathy McGowan and the irritating Keith Fordyce present ” Ready Steady Go” with the slogan ” The Weekend Starts Here” and boy it did in one way or another! Cue theme music “54321 “by Manfred Mann and away we go! Essential viewing for any mod teenager who was a dedicated follower of  fashion in swinging London in the 60’s.

On Saturday evening we had the pleasure of  Brian Matthews and ” Thank Your Lucky Stars”  and the unforgettable teenager Janice Nichols of ‘ Oi’ ll give it Foive ‘ fame. and would it be a Hit or a Miss on ‘ Juke Box Jury ” with David Jacobs and how lucky we were to have all these TV shows showing us the best sparkle of the British beat groups and ballad singers. One night in December 63 the Beatles appeared on the “Juke Box Jury” show as the panel of judges and voted the latest Elvis Presley 45 a hit!

Sunday evening we finished it all off with Alan (not ‘alf) Freeman’s  Pick of the Pops ” radio show. After that it was all downhill as the depression set in that evening because Monday morning you would be back at school.                           

Some of the great artists that appeared on these shows were: Dusty Springfield, PJ Proby, The Searchers, Billy Fury, Stones, Sonny & Cher, Beatles, The Seekers, John Barry, Phil Spector and Marianne Faithfull and many more!

The first 45 that I bought was by the Kinks All Day And All Of The Night” c/w “I Gotta Move ”  on Pye Records. This was their second single after ” You Really Got Me’ but more about the Kinks soon pop pickers!


Beatlemania ~ November ’63

August 28, 2011

The Beatles kicked off November 1963 with their Royal Variety performance in the presence of the Queen Mother and  Princess Margaret. This night John Lennon was to announced to the crowd “For those of you in the cheap seats clap your hands to this one:  the rest of you can rattle your jewelry” and then launched into ‘ Twist & Shout ‘ and Beatlemania had arrived in Britain!                           

The Beatles went off on a tour of England and was met by large crowds of female girls screaming and fainting at the very glimpse of the mop tops and most of these shows on this tour were held in cinemas as the boys criss crossed the country for the month getting 300 pounds a night and not being able to hear a thing they were playing!

The single ‘ She Loves You ‘ had been No 1 in the UK charts and would be followed by ‘ I Wanna Hold Your Hand ‘ in late November ’63 selling a million copies before release.

On November 22nd the Beatles second album ‘ With the Beatles ‘ was released with its distinctive black and white half shadow cover and haircuts and I remember the girl who lived across the road Linda coming over to my house with the record and hearing it for the first time. It sounds so fresh and tight,  full of atmosphere and the band deliver a masterpiece with Ringo supplying the back beat for the boys to supply their chunky rhythm and sing their hearts out!. No songs were released as singles in England off this LP but all of the songs are well crafted and are super good !

With the Beatles ‘ was the follow~up to the ‘ Please Please Me ‘ LP which was recorded in one day and this LP had more time spent on it and is well recorded by George Martin and the Beatles sparkle and rock with great playing and harmonies from beginning to end with a few covers, lots of original Lennon and McCartney songs and the first George Harrison composition.      

It Won’t Be Long ‘ starts things off with John on lead vocal and plenty of harmonies then slows with ‘ All I’ve Got To Do ‘ followed by Paul singing ‘ All My Loving ‘ brilliantly. Next up is George with his own song  singing ‘ Don’t Bother Me’ . Then we have the rocker ‘ Little Child ‘  with Paul on piano and Lennon with a great vocal performance. Paul takes the lead on the sweet  ballad ‘ Till There Was You ‘ . ‘Please Mr Postman ‘ ends the side with John delivering again a great vocal performance on this Motown classic by the Marvelettes.

George takes the mike on Side Two with a steamrolling version of  Chuck Berry’s ‘ Roll Over Beethoven ‘ and ‘ Hold Me Tight ‘ rocks along with Paul’s vocal and the boys full of energy. Smokey Robinson’s ‘ You Really Got A Hold On Me ‘ is my personal fave and features George Martin on piano. Next along is ‘ I Wanna Be Your Man ‘ with Ringo taking vocals and this song would give the Rolling Stones their first big hit in the UK! Next is a great song  ‘ Devil In Her Heart ‘ which is a Beatle cover of a group called The Donays which would have probably been forgotten if not recorded by the Beatles. the last Lennon and McCartney song on the album is ‘ Not A Second Time’ with John on vocal and to finish the album another Motown hit ‘ Money ‘ which gave John a chance to show us his raw vocal power one more time.                                    

The world would soon change as the Beatles went on to conquer the globe and like the two world wars the Yanks were late to the party!  Will we ever see the likes again!


Dedicated Follower of the Kinks

May 10, 2011

“The taxman’s taken all my dough and left me in my stately home lazing on a sunny afternoon ~ and I can’t sail my yacht he’s taken  everything I’ve got ~ all I’ve got is this sunny afternoon”. words written by Ray Davies of the Kinks.

We have two things in common with the lyrics above ! The taxman has recently taken all our dough and with summer fast approaching at least hopefully we will get some sunny afternoons!             

The Kinks record “All Day and All of the Night” was the first 45 that I bought and recently on TV they were showing an early episode of “Heartbeat” starring Nick Berry which played most of the Kinks first two records ‘You Really Got Me” and”All Day and All of the Night” and they sounded so good!  Like a runaway express train coming at you.

The original Kinks line up was : Ray Davies guitar & vocals and main songwriter, Brother Dave Davies supplying the  fierce guitar work, Mick Avory laying down the back beat and Peter Quaife on bass who sadly recently passed away.

The next Kinks record that I bought was the LP “Sunny Afternoon” in 1967 on the Marble Arch label which was the budget arm of Pye Records and features four hit singles and some brilliant Kinks B~sides and EP tracks, this record was jammed full of gems from the mid~sixties and complete with the greatest LP cover!   

Named after their current UK No. 1 hit 45 the album kicks off with “Sunny Afternoon”  which has the trade~ mark Ray Davies lyrics and is followed next  by I Need You” which is so good it would have been a hit in it’s own right ~ pure garage metal  rock.

 Next up was “See My Friends” which has a repeat hypnotic Indian feel to it and reached No. 10 in the UK charts followed by “Big Black Smoke” the B~side of  “Dead End Street” and really sums up the Fagin feeling of being poor in dirty of London which a lot of us can relate too!

The end song  of Side One is the classic “Louie Louie” written by Richard Berry and was a big hit for the Kingsmen in the USA in 1963 but this Kinks version would have made the charts as well. Pure rock n roll!

Side Two kicks off with “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” which is the Kinks at their best taking a swipe at the Carnaby fashion scene in London and drawing heavily from British music hall traditions in it’s mocking scornful lyrics! and reaching No. 5 in the UK.

They seek him here they seek him there his clothes are loud but never square!  Oh Yes he is!  

Next track is  Sittin’ On My Sofa  : B~ side of “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”  and  a great up beat song with great bass playing from Pete Quaife.  

Next up is  Such A Shame : Appears on the B~side of the US 45 “Well Respected Man’ and again  has great RayDavies lyric and melody.

Track 4 is one of my Kinks favourites “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”  B side of  “Sunny Afternoon” which features brother Dave Davies on vocals and what a great job he does as well!

Also Dave Davies had a number of hits in his own right including “Lincoln County” “Susannah’s Still Alive” and probably the most famous “Death of a Clown“. Great to hear if you haven’t already!

Last song on the album is “Dead End Street” which reached No. 5 on the UK chart and is very popular with people who live in a Cul~De~ Sac’s but the rest of us like it because like so many Ray Davies songs it speaks of the Englishness of the upper and working classes.                                                                                                                                         

I like my football on Saturdays ~ Roast beef on Sundays ~ It’s all right!  

I go to Blackpool for my holidays ~ sit in the open sunlight      


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