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.
Small Faces - 1968 - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake