Small Faces "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" (1968) review
An ambitious concept album from one of the greatest of all british invasion bands...The Small Faces- Ogden's Nut Gone Flake.
Steve Marriott- Guitars & Vocals
Ronnie Lane- Bass & Vocals
Ian MacLagan- Keyboards & Vocals
Kenny Jones- Drums & Percussion
Stanley Unwin- Cockney Double-speak
The Small Faces will forever be my favorite British mod band with The Who being a close second. Blasphemy? Well if it weren't for Roger Daltry's "devoid of emotion" vocals and his seemingly disinterested stage presence, I'd entertain any arguments to the contrary. But I digress, let's set the controls for the heart of the sun.
In the hazy, somewhat crazy Summer of Love, 1967, The Small Faces smoked "dey pot like goods lads" of the day and decided to record "Ogdens Nut Gone Flake", a concept album. Largely a departure from the strengths of most bands, concept records were considered overindulgent and resulted in a lot bands swan songs. "What's this? A concept record? We'll have none of that!"
You could argue that The Beatles set the bar with "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in June of 1967, while the Moody Blues explored this territory with their November release "Nights in White Satin." January of 1968 The Rolling Stones jumped into the foray with "Their Satanic Majesty's Request" and in July the Moody's hit it big again with "In Search of the Lost Chord". ["Lost Chord" is a wonderful musical journey, largely put down these days, celebrating the LSD trip and Dr. Timothy Leary.] And I would be remiss unless I got on my knees and chanted "I'm not worthy" in the direction of The Pretty Things' "S.F. Sorrow"...!!!
The Small Faces put out their masterpiece "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" in June of '68 and The Pretty Things finished the year with the closest thing to Sgt Pepper: "S.F.Sorrow".. brilliant and under appreciated at the time. The Who and The Kinks put out "Tommy" and "Arthur" in 1969. Now that we've set the record straight....forward, Tin Soldiers..onto "Ogden's!!!"
Released in June of 1968, "ONGF" took a year to record and mix. Half a concept LP drenched and dripping with psychedelic jams and tongue-in-cheek cockney humor. It was released with its' die-cut tobacco tin artwork and potent music wrapped around four stoned, cockney Elves.
"Ogden's Nut Gone Flake": The self titled opening track has Ian MacLagan's phased organ arc-ing from speaker to speaker pounding you into submission .."more you little bastard, MORE!".
"After Glow" written by Steve Marriott about one of his girlfriends [some say Pat Arnold] is a wonderful journey loaded with spatial effects.
"Long Agos and Worlds Apart" written & sung by MacLagan stands on it's own and is a perfect segue into-
"Rene", a paean about a loveable East End prostitute, Rene Tungate. "Rene" starts off with Lane singing in a cockney accent and ending with Marriott's guitar and the Mighty Midget Rhythm Section of Lane & Jones plowing a path through your brain into....
"Song of a Baker"...I give up! What a great record! The Mighty Midgets at it again! Some fans consider this the bands best song. At 2:22 you can hear Lane prompt Marriott with "Jump", the lead in to the next line. I love the seemingly unedited looseness that took a year to create. Incredible! We haven't even gotten to the concept side!
"Lazy Sunday", written by Marriott about his neighbor just to fill out the side, was released and climbed the charts much to his chagrin.. he never liked the song. "Ere we all are, sitting in a rainbow..blimey, hallo, Mrs. Jones, how's yer Bert's lumbago?" I find it a revealing and stunning window into Steve Marriott's former career where he played the Artfull Dodger in OLIVER at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's West End. This was 1960 and led to Marriott working in radio & television...but as I usually do...I digress.
Narrated impeccably by BBC Radio & Commercials star, Stanley Unwin, side two starts the magical journey of Happiness Stan, a electric fairy tale about the cycles of the moon. Casting the double-talking Unwin was a stroke of genius. Unwinese is hard to decipher but who cares? It's hysterical. Having spent spent some time with the lads during the recording, Stanley wove some of their daily dialogue into his own cockney double-speak. For all it's linguistic pretentions, it's a load of bollocks, but brilliant nonetheless.
"Happiness Stan" starts the tale with Unwin at the top of his form, "Are you all sitting comfty-bo two-square on your bodieee? Good then I'll begin.." [Professor Irwin Corey would be proud] setting up the harp intro into Marriott's pop-psych phased vocals.
"Rollin' Over" with Stan's intro blows the Un-Unwin 45 rpm mix away.
"The Hungry Intruder" has the Faces at their whimsical best.
"The Journey" features Ian MacLagan's trademark pumping keyboards.
"Mad John" is prototypical Small Faces of the day. Marriott's wonderful acoustic guitar & MacLagan's piano set the backdrop as Marriott trades verses with Ronnie "Plunk" Lane's nasal intoning morphing into a medieval romp!
"Happy Days Toy Town"....Unwin- "Clap twiceee, lean on yer back-edo and twistee for awhile-oh'..don't worry about the moon. Oh dear joy....cockney, cockney, cockney..remember in your brain bockle, lad: Wrong starts with a Wubble-U! All joyfold! Goodlee bye-lod-ee!"
A cockney knees up. Indeed!
Review made by Bob Mickey Spillane, The Dangerous R&R Show/2014
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