Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: 'Small Faces' (Immediate) Deluxe Edition

When we last left Small Faces they were suffering ignominiously at the hands of a record label cobbling together an unrepresentative compilation and tossing it out just two weeks before the band's second proper album was due for release on their new label. Just as the Small Faces’ story shifted from Decca to Immediate back in 1967, it moves from UMe to Charly music today. The latter label is reissuing multi-disc deluxe editions of the Immediate albums Small Faces and Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. The change in labels (both of the original and reissue variety) is most appropriate as Small Faces had become a very different band during the switch. The band could still whip up a mighty soul wallop, and Steve Marriott could still unleash his Stax howl to shred the shingles from the roof, but an acid infused Small Faces now made music of great delicacy too. Their second eponymous album is a more diverse affair than the first one, mixing soul, heavy Rock, British folk, baroque tinkling, calypso, rowdy knees-ups, and swirling psychedelia in equal proportions.

Charly presents this intricate music in a classier package than the UMe deluxes, stowing it in a high-quality digibook instead of the flimsier digi-pak foldouts that housed Small Faces (Decca) and From the Beginning. While all the material on those previous deluxes really could have fit on single-disc editions, there’s enough stuff on Charly’s Small Faces (Immediate) to warrant a double. We get the album in both its mono and stereo incarnations, as well as some of the group’s finest singles and radical alternate-mixes as bonuses. “Green Circles” is presented in four totally distinct iterations that sport diverging experiments with phasing and equalization, as well as unusual vocal arrangements. An alternate version of “Things are Going to Get Better” features some cheeky whistling, and a mono alternate of “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me” has super upfront lead vocals and a creepier blend on the bridge. You’ll have further fun spotting the differences between the standard mono and stereo mixes, particularly on the delightful hit “Itchycoo Park”. Fortunately, one avenue in which the Charly reissue copies the UMe ones is sound: the same remastering team worked on Small Faces (Immediate) and it sounds phenomenal. You’ll think Ronnie Lane is trapped in your speaker when he starts cooing “Something I Want to Tell You”.

Coming next month, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. For now, you can pick up Small Faces (Immediate) on Amazon.com here:

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