Top 10 Small Faces Songs
Formed in 1965, the Small Faces exemplified the Mod aesthetic. The looked sharp and sounded sharper. Led by the charismatic powerhouse Steve Marriott, Small Faces existed only a few short years, but their body of work in that short time frame (1965-1969) rivals most every contemporary of the era. Out of their stellar catalog, we have plucked a mere handful of stars for our list of the Top 10 Small Faces Songs. If you’ve never dug in, what are you waiting for?!
‘Get Yourself Together’
A stompin’ raver from the band’s 1967 self-titled LP, ‘Get Yourself Together’ is pure soul and rock and roll as only the Small Faces could deliver, and a perfect place to begin our list of the Top 10 Small Faces Songs. As with much of their material on this first Immediate Records release, acoustic guitars have as much say as the electrics, taking over much of the rhythm guitar parts. Ian McLagan’s piano colors the song beautifully while Kenney Jones adds the right amount of dynamics to elevate the record.
‘Sha La La La Lee’
The band’s third single, ‘Sha La La La Lee’ was pure beat gold. As the needle hits the first groove, it’s an urgent blast of rock and roll. Written by outside writers, Mort Shuman and Kenny Lynch, it fit the Small Faces like a well-tailored Carnaby Street suit. The guys made the song their own with slashing power chords and Marriott’s tough vocal. An argument could be made for this, along with early records by the Who, being the roots of what would become ‘power pop’ in the next decade. The record hit No. 3 in England and helped the band gain higher ground in their homeland. Just try and sit still during this ride!
‘Here Come The Nice’
This is a song about drugs, simple as that! “He’s got what I want, he’s got what I need, he’s always there if I need some speed.” BBC censors must’ve been on holiday at the time, because those lines flew right past them and allowed the song to rise just under the Top Ten in the U.K. The acoustic guitar-driven gem was the band’s first release for Immediate Records and the first sings that times were changing and the band were changing right along with them. Gone were the sharp, mod-tailored suits, replaced with paisleys and flowery patterns. The same could be said of the music. The single, as well as most of the 1967 LP, delivered a slightly psychedelic, yet still very soulful, style.
‘Lazy Sunday’ shows off the campier side of Marriott’s writing and delivery of a song. Adopting a sort of cliche British music hall style, the boys deliver a bouncy and irresistible little ditty about, well, a lazy Sunday afternoon. Though slightly tongue in cheek, the song couldn’t help but become a huge hit, bouncing in at No. 2. The record didn’t fare as well in the U.S., unable to reach the Top 100. ‘Lazy Sunday’ is about as overtly “English” as you can get. For some reason over the years, more than a few British acts have had to endure the criticism that they were “too English” to make it in America. It was said about the Kinks, Small Faces and later the Jam, Blur and Oasis. To that we say, “Pish Tosh!”
‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’
What a way to kick thing off. With their debut single in mid-1965, the Small Faces announced their arrival in powerhouse fashion with this stomping little number. With a riff on loan from Solomon Burke’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,’ the band tear through this raver with total conviction. Marriott belts out one of his finest early performances. Throw in some chaotic guitar feedback and you have a Mod classic clocking in at just under two minutes. A dance floor favorite still guaranteed to get mods moving.
In 1969, the Small Faces released their final album ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake,’ and in an album packed with amazing songs, ‘Afterglow’ ranks among the finest. The opening crash of chords leads into a soulful, ballad like verse before amping things up again on the life affirming chorus. Marriott’s vocal here is incredible. He is simply one of the most soulful and powerful voices we’ve ever had. Though the song was issued as a single, it failed to make much of a dent on either side of the Atlantic, but has remained a fan favorite over the years.
Their sole U.S. hit record – No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Small Faces Songs – is a bouncing little ditty, perfect for AM radio circa 1967. Loaded with allusions to the era from whence it came, ‘Itchycoo Park’ is pure gold with the refrain of ‘it’s all too beautiful’ ringing true. “Itchycoo Park wasn’t really a park,” said drummer Kenney Jones in the band biography ‘The Young Mods Forgotten Story.’ “It was an area in Ilford which was a bombsite, an area of westem land all wild and overgrown.” The song’s jaunty rhythm bounces along while the technique of phasing adds just a pinch of psychedelia to the proceedings. Released in Aug. 1967, the song rose to No. 16 on the Billboard charts and No. 3 in the U.K.
‘My Minds Eye’
Written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, ‘My Minds Eye’ was the Small Faces sixth single and fourth Top Ten in just over a year. Not bad for a song that was never intended to be a single. It was issued in late-1966 and would signal the end of the band’s time on the Decca label. The band had sent a demo of this new song to their label, Decca Records, and without missing a beat, the label released the demo without the band’s knowledge. “The first time we heard it was on the car radio,” said Marriott. “It just came on, everybody was WHAT?!” They would soon find a new home with Immediate Records, the label set up by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. And yes, the melody was borrowed from ‘Gloria in Excelsis’ of which Marriott defiantly said, ‘Sure, we nicked it!”
With its almost ominous intro, the song quickly picks up steam to become a top-shelf highly charged rocker and on of the band’s greatest performances. Coming at the tail end of 1967, the record finds the band moving away from the more pastoral elements they had been recently enamored with, returning to a grittier sound. All the Small Faces signatures are fully on display here. Slashing guitars and crashing drums never sounded so life affirming! The record hit the Top Ten in the U.K. shortly after its release in late 1967 and was included on the U.S. version of the ‘There Are But Four Small Faces’ album. The song is “about getting into someone’s mind, not their body” said Steve Marriott in the ‘The Young Mod’s Forgotten Story.’ “It refers to a girl I used to talk to and she really gave me a buzz.”
‘All Or Nothing’
Quite possibly the definitive Small Faces track, hence its sitting at the top of our list of the Top 10 Small Faces Songs. The record contains every aspect of what made the band so f—in’ great! In all of its three minutes, it captures the soul, the swagger and the stomp of the Small Faces. Issued in the summer of 1966, it became the band’s only No. 1 single. Every member of the band shines on this track from the powerhouse drumming of Kenney Jones and Ronnie Lane’s melodic bass anchor, to the sweet color provided by Ian McLagan’s keyboards. To that already potent brew, throw in the always dynamic guitar and vocal of Mr. Steve Marriott, and you’ve got rock and roll perfection.