REVIEW: Small Faces live 1966

The Small Faces were the mouth watering four piece who emerged out of London with a charming swagger other bands struggled to attain, the band’s music lit up the hit parade holding a firm place in fans hearts at the time, continually dazzling and amazing old and new fans alike with their passion, sparkling soul and stunning grooves. The band members were perfect, they were all the same size, they wore clothes that have been coveted and recreated, plus their playing is the stuff of legend.

Steve Marriott has been rightly acclaimed as the greatest British white soul singer there has ever been, he could also pen a lyric just as legendary as anything Lennon/McCartney wrote, his guitar work has also been lauded along the likes of Keith Richards. Ronnie ‘Plonk’ Lane was the melodic smiling gypsy mod whose plonking basslines whilst having the voice of an angel could hold a crowds attention just as much as Marriott. Naturally talented behind the drum kit, Kenny Jones drum fills slotted in like the best there was including Keith Moon, Roger Powell and Mitch Mitchell. Finally the stone cold cool of Ian McLagan behind the Hammond organ introduced the sound the band strived for, that Booker T and the M.G.’s soul organ grind.

Mix these 4 components together and you have an explosive studio outfit, whilst their dynamic live performances have become the stuff of legend. It is the latter that a new release via Kenny Jones new Nice Records label lifts the lid on the bands early mod era revealing a frenzied live performance that’s exciting, passionate and fearless. There are a scattering of live releases by the band that have survived the dustbin including a 5 track performance from Newcastle City Hall, a BBC TV Colour Me Pop half mimed/live performance of Ogdens Nut Gone Flake, a TV performance from Germany with the band paying the hits whist a hot and sweltering London Marquee filmed performance reveals the band at the same time of these newly unearthed recordings simply entitled ‘Small Face – Live 1966’.

Recorded at the Twenty Club in Mouscron, Belgium on 9th January 1966 using on stage microphones to capture the band taking to the floorboards, this was all without the bands knowledge, however looking back now I’m sure all involved are now thankful for the foresight. A previous bootleg exhibited a rough edge to the recordings, however following a professional mix by Tosh Flood and a  new mastering by Nick Robbins plus the addition of the now full matinee shows, the tracks we have showcase a glorious set of powerhouse rhythm and blue straight from the top draw. Listen to Plum Nellie medley where this then youthful band launch into a tirade of outstanding musicianship, the inclusion of the strangely (no pun) omitted track Strange, whilst the inclusion of the Solomon Burke influenced single What’cha Gonna Do About It, b side Grow Your Own and the soulful sequel of E Too D just about knocks the socks clean of your feet, the power of the band is breathtaking, making this find a true treasure.

There are a number of different versions being released; whilst the digital version is already released, there’s a single CD set that was released on 3rd September, the 2 LP coloured vinyl format with a Kenny Jones signed artwork all available from set for release on 5th November. Each come with previously unseen band archive and images from the period as well as a new interview with Jones by Martin Payne. Quite literally a miracle find of the modern age, in a day when it’s thought everything that could be released of this rock and roll hall of fame entrants, there is seemingly hope on the horizon for further treats to be unearthed from the suitcases Jones found these recordings.

Small Faces live 1966 is available here

Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Freelance writer who likes anything with heart and soul