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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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



Genuine CD sound quality drawing music lovers back

December 14, 2012

Genuine CD sound quality drawing music lovers back

to the Beatmerchant.

amywinehousesteveston.jpg

Frankie Neilson of The Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston, which offers CDs and vinyls, such as this Amy Winehouse album.

Martin van den Hemel photos
By Martin van den Hemel – Richmond Review
Published: January 13, 2012 11:00 AM
Updated: January 13, 2012 11:47 AM
 
History has a way of repeating itself, and so it appears with the predicted demise of CDs since downloading music from the Internet became a multi-billion dollar industry.

 Big box music store HMV recently closed its store at Richmond Centre mall after gradually placing less and less emphasis on its music CD collection. And HMV tried to fill a void left by the closing of A&B Sound in Vancouver.

 But business has never been better for Frankie Neilson, owner of The Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston, a specialty music store in the heart of the fishing village.

 “I think the big box stores…haven’t survived because they haven’t been giving people what they want. They stock all the same stuff,” said Neilson.

 Much like when CDs came on the scene in the 1980s, many pundits wondered how long it would take for vinyl albums to become extinct. And although vinyl albums aren’t being mass produced anymore, there’s no shortage of demand from audiophiles seeking the authentic sound quality they offer.

 Similarly, downloads from iTunes for play on iPods and other MP3 players doesn’t have the same quality and range of sound offered by music CDs or vinyl records.

 Neilson said one customer walked in after spending thousands of dollars on iTunes downloads, but had nothing to show for it and is now buying vinyl.

 Aside from better sound quality, having something you can hold, along with the signature artwork on CD jackets, along with additional content such as lyrics, that can’t be replicated by online downloads.

 Beyond that, people miss going to a store and chatting about music with people who are knowledgeable about it, he said.

 Over the past five years, Neilson said it’s a shame that the technology is becoming more important than the music itself.

 “The music is what’s important, not the technology,” he said.

 

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

Jet Harris ~ Me and my Shadows

February 7, 2012

In 1958  two Geordie boys came down to London not to visit the queen but to appear in a talent contest their names were Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch and the name of their skiffle band was The Railroaders, sadly they didn’t win the talent contest and as the rest of the band unhappily returned north Hank & Bruce decided to stick it out and with guitars in hand went for coffee in the 2 i’s coffee bar in London’s Soho district. Later the Geordie boys then met Cliff Richard’s manager John Foster who was putting together a backing band called the Drifters to back Cliff on a UK tour, so in early 1959 with Hank on lead guitar and Bruce on rhythm guitar along with blonde and moody and magnificent Jet Harris on bass and the very young Tony Meehan on drums they set off on the road. The classic Shads line up was born!

This line up had all the girls screaming for the good looking  blonde haired Jet Harris and the boyish smile ofTony Meehan.

EMI records producer Norrie Paramor who also produced Cliff Richard on seeing the boys on tour signed them to their own recording contract. They released two singles as the Drifters both with vocals before changing their name to the Shadows because of the American soul band also called the Drifters.

Their second release as the Shadows was an instrumental song called  ‘Apache’ written by Jerry Lordan and it made it all the way to No. 1 on the charts replacing Cliff ‘s ‘Please Don’t Tease’ at the top. An instrumental classic then and now! more hits were to follow with ‘Man of Mystery’ and  ‘FBI’. 1961 saw the release of their first album which stayed on the charts for a year! 1962 saw the Shadows  appear in the Cliff film ‘The Young Ones’ in which they looked brilliant and they hit the top of the charts again with another brilliant Jerry Lordan composition ‘Wonderful Land’.

Who remembers the Shadows dance steps!.

Music shops at this point saw an upswing in the sale of guitars as everyone wanted to play like Hank Marvin from the Shadows.    

The Shadows personnel was to change during this period with Tony Meehan being replaced on drums because of his constant lateness on by the great Brian Bennett and the blonde Jet Harris being replaced by Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking on bass. Jet Harris has said that he left the band because Cliff was having an affair with his wife and unfortunately Jet has hit the bottle for the rest of his life but Jet & Tony both had great success in the UK charts with ‘Scarlett O’Hara’ and ‘Diamonds’ which are great 45s in their own right and just as good as the Shadows. Sad that both players have now passed away. Brian ‘ Licorice’ Locking would later  be replaced on bass by John Rostill and it is was said that Locking was getting a religious hold over Cliff and the band as Cliff found religion and Hank became a Jehovah’s Witness as Locking was himself. The Shads was to lose their permanent bass player and a good songwriter in 1973 when John Rostill  died  from electrocution in his home recording studio. Very sad. All the way through the Shadows long career Bruce Welch and Hank ruled the band with an iron fist making all the decisions and the direction the band would go in.

The Beatles changed everything in the world in 1963 with the beat boom from Merseyside but the Shadows held on with my Shads favourite song ‘Foot Tapper’ and also ‘Shindig’  topping the charts and once again they appeared in the blockbuster Cliff film ‘Summer Holiday’ which is still a great film today.

This was a great period for the much~loved  British instrumental group of all time and all the great British guitar players as youngsters all took their cue from Hank Marvin and to see Cliff and the Shads on the final reunion tour was a fitting reminder of how great these lads are!

Plenty of Twang!


Unplug those iPods and Plug in your Record Players

December 28, 2011

Vinyl Experience ~ What a difference!

The long-playing record or LP as we know it began its life in the late 40’s as a replacement for the more brittle 78 rpm shellac discs and it clearly worked as the LP is still alive and well today!

The main benefit to the introduction of the vinyl LP was it helped improve durability and the capacity to play up to thirty minutes on each side of the record. However it wasn’t until the birth of Rock n Roll and Elvis that the sales of LPs started to escalate and the first stereo LPs started to appear.

Many albums from the 60’s were issued  in both Mono and Stereo versions, opinions are divided about which versions is the best, with both recordings offering a different listening experience. Early Mono versions do demand a higher price on the collector’s market and UK pressings from this period are highly prized.

With the release of the Beatles ‘Sgt. Peppers’ LP the sales of vinyl exploded in the world-wide market place with huge amounts of vinyl being sold right though  the mid 70’s and early 80’s, with acts like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Michael Jackson selling big amounts, but in the 60’s we also began to see the LP artwork developed into its own art form. The album covers became  as important as the music itself taking on it’s own life  as the artists gained more artist control from the major record labels.

LPs became big business and the packaging became more elaborate often including printed inner sleeves with lyric inserts, posters and the beautiful gate~fold  sleeve design becoming great works of art and with the superior vinyl sound that is something the Compact Disc and the iPod with its more transistor-radio like sound has yet to match!

If you came through your teenage years listening to vinyl , then it is a hard act to follow, but the CD and iPod do have storage and mobility on their side.

During the 80’s the record companies kept finding new ways and gimmicks to help sell their latest releases and the collectable picture disc and the coloured vinyl became very popular also picture sleeves on the 45 rpm records and the great sounding 12″ records and remixes which had its big time in the new wave and disco era.

By the mid 80’s the record companies were ready to introduce the compact disc and push the new format into the market and almost overnight vinyl disappeared from the record shops as the record companies started not to release any big artist on vinyl let alone the smaller ones forcing CDs on the general public!

But the vinyl market would not go away and the record fairs became the place to buy and exchange vinyl during this period.   

Happily the classic albums from the 50’s and 60’s onwards are once again available today on vinyl along with the new releases.                                                                                                                                                           

Let’s see if the iPod is around in five years let alone fifty like vinyl.                                      

The great thing about the newer acts releasing vinyl is that some of them are including free downloads of the album as well so you can have the best of both worlds.

Many people come into my shop and tell me they still have their records and turntables and I urge you all to make room on your stereo units and plug-in your record players and enjoy again the unique experience of listening to vinyl through your hi~fi or headphones.

We will see what the future brings.

 

 

 


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