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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Paul Simon & Sting together at Rogers Arena ~ Thurs Feb 20th @ 8pm

March 1, 2014

When you go to see Paul Simon & Sting on tour together you are actually going to see 4 artists, Paul Simon, Sting, The Police and Simon & Garfunkel, this is  the wealth of recorded material that these two artists can draw on  for this show.

No Art Garfunkel on stage tonight but Sting is here to fill that space and what a good job he will do, also no Police boys tonight guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland are missing in action, but 14 musicians fill the stage and Sting’s band fill the Police void with the brilliant master class Vinnie Golaiuta on drums and the tasteful classically trained Dominic Miller on guitar add to these on keyboards David Sancious and Jo Lawry who is featured on the film ‘ 20 feet from Stardom” on backing vocals with young new kid Peter Tickell on electric violin who is an outstanding talent.

The first thing I notice is Sting is still in strong voice hitting all the notes and still has his vocal power and is first and foremost  a great musician with the chance to play bass with some stellar musicians tonight which he seems to relish and to sing some of Paul Simon’s songs as they merge their material and verses and voices together being very gracious to each other between songs.

Starting in with “Brand New Day” all of Sting’s solo songs and Police goodies are on display here tonight and the crowd are right there for the sing~a~long Roxanne and  Walking on the Moon including yours truly supporting a fellow English boy in Vancouver!

Paul Simon acknowledges the Canadian Woman’s Hockey team win over the USA and gets a big cheer in our home town hockey  stadium.

Next thing I notice is Paul Simon’s band ~ Wow!  every one of them are up to brilliant and deserve a special mention ~ Mick Rossi on Hammond keyboards, Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes on Accordion and Harmonica, Bakithi  Kumalo on bass, Vincent Nguini on guitar, C.J. Carmerierion trumpet and French Horn and Andy Snitzer on Saxophone and Flutes who are a brass section to end all brass sections and  the three who really sparked my  interest, Mark Stewart who would join the brass section on Saxophone and played a mean guitar as well, also Jamey Haddad on percussion who nearly stole the show with his solo and last but not least young drummer extraordinaire Jim Oblon  who I think will be much in demand in the future and is also a fine guitarist.

The songs of Paul Simon carry him through the night, surly one of the best songwriters in the last 50 odd years, he has adapted his voice to suit the all time classics ~ Slip Slidin Away, Stll Crazy, My and Julio, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Mother & Child Reunion  and the beautiful drum intro into 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and the crowd are on there feet and in seventh heaven at this point.

Then next up  you have the Graceland songs to wow  the crowd and again they are up on their feet again for every note and word ~ Boy in the Bubble, Diamonds on the Soles Of Her Shoes and You Can Call Me Al with bass player Kulamo showing the audience that he can play just a bit and kissing his bass guitar after a standing ovation at the end of the song. Follow that!

Great show boys ~ Paul Simon at 73 & Sting at 63 ~ Good Friends and happily Still Crazy After All these Years and with smiles on their faces

Frankie Neilson


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



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.

 

 

 


The Faces ~ Had Me A Real Good Time !

September 8, 2011

After the demise of the Small Faces in 1969 with Stevie Marriott leaving to form Humble Pie, the three surviving members Kenny Jones ( Drums ) Ian McLagan ( keyboards ) and Ronnie Lane ( Bass ) hooked up with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart fresh evacuees from the Jeff Beck Group, and named their new band The Faces.                      

Jeff Beck is quoted as saying that “Wood and Stewart were like a couple of little schoolgirls always giggling and laughing together” and that he was pleased to get rid of them.

The initial Faces albumFirst Step ‘ was released in 1970 and had the name the Small Faces on the front cover. The album features lots of  great charm but is slightly untogether with songs such as ‘ Three Button Hand Me Down ‘  and Dylan’sWicked Messenger ‘ pointing the direction the band would take in the future, but it was really the folky Ronnie Lane song ‘ Stone’ that captured my ear!

I saw the Faces play on the release of their second album ‘ Long Player ‘ at London’s Chalk Farm Roundhouse and what a show it was with Rod and the boys kicking soccer balls out into the audience and all of them drinking wine and brandy on stage. It was a real party atmosphere with the audience joining in for a sing~a~long at every opportunity.                

The second LP ‘ Long Player ‘ once again is a bit messy but with the Faces becoming a great rock n roll live act at this time. Two tracks on the album are live ‘ I Feel So Good ‘ and a brilliant cover of Paul McCartney’sMaybe I’m Amazed ‘ and the party theme of ‘ Had Me A Real Good Time ‘ is great, but once again it is the folk songs supplied by Ronnie Lane that also stand out!

Album No. 3 ‘ A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse ‘ with it’s great sleeve artwork would be the break~through album for the band . Outstanding songs on this album include ‘ Miss Judy’s Farm ‘ and the funny ‘ Your So Rude ‘ and ‘ Stay With Me ‘ .Every song is a winner and  the band really gel and the songwriting had reached a high point.

Finally the band made the UK chart with the 45 ‘ Stay With Me ‘ which exploded out of the radio helping to propel the album and 45 into the Top Ten. However this was followed closely by the solo success of Rod Stewart with the 45 ‘ Maggie May ‘ and the LP  ‘ Every Picture Tells A Story ‘ with the rest of the Faces feeling like they where his backing band. That wasn’t what the Faces was about with their motto being ‘ All For One and One For All ‘ but the damage had been done within the group, most critically with Ronnie Lane who was very unhappy with the situation as some shows were billed as Rod Stewart & The Faces.                                             

By the time the final album ‘ Ooh La La’ hit the streets it was clearly all over but this LP had some high points with ‘ Cindy Incidentally’ making the pop charts and the title track becoming a fitting finale to a great group and with Ronnie Lane leaving the Faces to join the circus with his new ‘ The Passing Show ‘ band of musicians, big top, clowns and all!

Ronnie Lane was the heart of the band and things were never the same after he left and today Ronnie is sadly no longer with us. Kenny Jones joined the Who for a short while as replacement for Keith Moon. Ian McLagan would tour with Bob Dylan and the Stones and fronts his own Bump band,while Ronnie Wood joined the Stones as Mick Taylor’s replacement.

Rod Stewart would do his Atlantic Crossing to the USA and his many blondes girlfriends, but never had another band to match the Faces. Blessed with a great voice maybe he sometimes reflects on the time when he had major solo and group success all in the space of one year with ‘ Maggie May and ‘ Stay With Me ‘ in the singles chart and ‘ Every Picture Tells A Story ‘ and ‘ A Nod’s As Good As A Wink ‘ in the album charts.                        

So far Rod has resisted calls from Ronnie to sing with the band again ~ so the three remaining Faces ~ Ron, Kenny and Ian have played some live shows with Glen Matlock on bass and Mick Hucknell on vocals. Very good indeed !

Last Orders Please !


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