12 September 2007

Small Faces - 1968 - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5

I bet I would've done this one earlier if I hadn't threatened to do so in my profile blurb. Oh well, we've gotten to it now, and this stands as the Small Faces prime psychedelic moment. It is their best album, but I'd still hand someone the Immediate Singles as an introduction before this.

The band's psychedelic window dressings are much denser on this disc than on their previous recordings. Even with the amped-up freakiness, I can't help but think that these guys are R&B rockers at heart. Fortunately the band used this dichotomy as an asset which is none more apparent than on this album.

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is a primordial concept album, even though the concept doesn't really kick in until the second side. That's not to say that there isn't some fine material throughout. Really, some of the tracks completely divorced from the 'concept' are highlights of the album.

Among the classics to be found on side one is the rocker "Afterglow." This one starts of with some rather clickity rhythms (that fare much better in the mono mix) and a crooning Ronnie Lane, before going full-tilt hard rock majestic with Steve Marriott providing an anthemic lead.

Separated from "Afterglow" by a few tracks that still maintain a good 'album track' quality is the almost novelty single "Lazy Sunday." Legend has it that the band intended this track as more or less of a joke, but for better or for worse they equipped it with a great chorus. The song proved itself as a single and basically found its way on the album whether the band wanted it to or not. Granted, I can see where the band balked at the goofy cockney vocals, but it's still a great track.

Speaking of cockney, once the second side starts, so does the 'concept' which is punctuated by narrative gibberish courtesy of British comedian Stanley Unwin. It's mildly amusing once or twice, especially if you've been drinking, but all in all probably wasn't the best choice. The concept's there, but you're a braver man (or woman) than I if you're able to find your way through the thick brouge to experience the lysergic tale of Happiness Stan.

Fortunately the songs are still pretty good. "Rollin' Over" cops the "Purple Haze" riff a little too closely for me to enjoy, but "The Journey" nicely delivers on it's title. "Mad John" is a totally groovy folkish story song, and "HappyDaysToyTown" gives us a climactic conclusion to Happiness Stan's story while sounding utterly and tweely insane. It kind of gives me the same vibe as the movie ending "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" from Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

At least in the album format, this is the crowning achievement of the Small Faces. It has a few weaknesses that tend to get glossed over in most reviews, but still has enough verve and cool tracks to be a required listen.

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Small Faces - 1968 - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake


Anonymous said...

Awesome Posts! I was looking for this. Have the original on CD, so looking forward to hearing the other mixes.

Question...do the four Small Faces files comprise the entire 35th Anniversary Collection? And is this the source for all 4 downloads? Just wondering, and if not, could you post the entire 35th collection?

Keep up the great work...love the blog!

Randy Crouton said...

Haha, FINALLY!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great work and site!

Mark B said...

I agree with your review. After all the praise, I expected more. There are some good songs here, but some silliness gets in the way. The narration is definitely too much, but there's certainly some good music there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the Small Faces!

Anonymous said...

I've wanted to hear this for years and it is pretty great. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

A good resource for finding out stuff about the Small Faces is this website.

It gives the location of places made famous by the Small Faces and other bands.

The Real Itchycoo park

The J60 Music bar in Manor park, where Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane struck up a friendship.

Along with a few other locations.

Michael Hadfield said...

Love this album and The Small Faces in general.
Marriott is the main artist I would have loved to have seen before he checked out.
Check out my site for Small Faces pop art prints.

Kai said...

Very nice album...