Monday, 14 May 2012

“Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake” by SMALL FACES. A Review Of The 1968 Album Now Remastered And Reissued Onto A 3CD DELUXE EDITION In 2012.

“Are You All Sitty Comftybold Two Square On Your Botty? Then I’ll Begin…”


Monday 7 May 2012 sees the UK release of a whopping four DELUXE EDITIONS for Small Faces fans (15 May 2012 in the USA) - and for many their 1968 masterpiece "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" (a Number 1 album in the UK) will be 'the' jewel in a very tasty set of crowns.

Here are the finite details for Universal/Sanctuary 276 523-5:

Disc 1 (38:30 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the MONO version of "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" - their fourth studio album released 24 May 1968 in the UK on Immediate Records IMLP 012

Disc 2 (41:17 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 14 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (Track 8 Previously Unreleased on CD)
1. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (Early Session Version - Mono)
2. Afterglow (Alternate USA Mix - Stereo)
3. Long Agos And Worlds Apart (Alternate USA Mix - Stereo)
4. Rene, The Dockers Delight (Early Session Mix - Stereo)
5. Song Of A Baker (Alternate USA Mix - Stereo)
6. Lazy Sunday (Alternate USA Mix - Stereo)
7. Happiness Stan (Backing Track - Mono)
8. Bun In The Oven (Early Session Mix - Mono)
9. The Fly (Take 4 - Instrumental Version - Stereo)
10. Mad John (Take 7 - Early Session Version - Stereo)
11. HappyDaysToyTown (Alternate USA Mix - Stereo)
12. Kamikhazi (Take 7 - Backing Track - Mono)
13. Every Little Bit Hurts (Early Session Mix - Mono)
14. Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (Alternate Take - Phased Mix - Stereo)

Disc 3 (38:21 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the STEREO version of "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" - on Immediate Records IMSP 012
[Note: in advance of the album "Lazy Sunday" b/w "Rollin' Over" was released 5 April 1968 as a 7" single in the UK on Immediate IM O64 (mono mixes above).
"Afterglow" was also released as 7" single in the UK (credited as "Afterglow Of Your Love") in March 1969 on Immediate IM 077 with the non-album track "Wham Bam Thank You Man" as its B-side.
That song is NOT on here]

Since Universal stopped using titled plastic slip-around wraps on their DELUXE EDITIONS - they've plumed instead for a bit of sticky tape at the base that you have to cut and split to get open - not the most graceful of presentations it has to be said. But once inside the detail is impressive. As fans will know "Ogdens'..." was released in the most beautiful and elaborate artwork designed by Mick Swan - a foldout five-flaps circular-sleeve based on a Victorian tobacco tin (name changed by the boys to avoid copyright infringement). Folded out in full - it featured two colour prints on the inside and 4 black and white snaps of the band on the other flaps. The Mono and Stereo CDs contain 'variants' of the gorgeous colour prints by Pete Brown and Nick Tweddell (the actual LP ones are in the booklet) while Gered Mankowitz's black and white 'spider's web' snaps of the band that filled each of the other circles are reproduced on the card flaps. Beneath the two see-through CD trays are repros of the labels for Side 1 and Side 2 of the original 1968 Stereo LP.

The booklet is lovely - 24 colour pages filled with Immediate memorabilia, rare worldwide 7" picture sleeves for both "Lazy Sunday" and "Afterglow Of Your Love" and even a battered-looking Scotch tape box. The liner notes by MARK PAYTRESS are typically informative and fact-filled (such a good writer) and give you great insights into the album's formation, Stanley Unwin's "Unwinese" gobbledegook English that fills Side 2's "Happiness Stan" suite and indeed the general creative mayhem that surrounded this most beloved of English albums. I particularly like the Immediate Records trade advert that uses a re-wording of "Our Father" (The Lord's Prayer) to sell the LP ("...and deliver us Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake..." etc) - blinding!

But the real meat for fans will be the NEW REMASTERS from best-ever sources and overseen by surviving members of the band - KENNEY JONES and IAN McLAGAN. Tape Research and Recovery is by ROB CAIGER, Tape Restoration and Transfer from Analogue is by ROB KAYLACH and Mastering by NICK ROBBINS - and man have they collectively done a bang-up job. Little will prepare fans for the sonic whack off this...

"Ogdens'..." for me has always been a two-sided production job - Side 1 is good - but Side 2 is stupendous - and that feeling continues on this reissue. The extensive use of guitar 'phasing' on Side 1 gives the tracks that evocative 60t's feel for sure - but it also sounds sonically compromised somehow - Side 2 does not. Take the strings and opening Stanley Unwin dialogue on "Rollin' Over" (his words title this review) - it's unbelievably clear and full of presence. Then when the band does kick in with that riff and harmonica blasting - it's awesome. The drums and acoustic guitars that open "Mad John" are HUGE - as is the drums and organ on the STEREO mix of "The Journey". The last remaster I had was good - but this is so much better and musically sweeter. And "Lazy Sunday" has never sounded so glorious. "Song Of A Baker", "Rene" - it's all a triumph...

A "...1, 2, 3, 4..." vocal count-in gives us a stringed-up and heavily phased "Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake" that is fascinating - and even in its unfinished form - sounds extraordinary - like something from another world. Unfortunately you can understand why the 'Alternate USA Stereo' mixes have stayed in the can - Marriott's vocals echoed to a ridiculous degree in the mix - almost to a point where it's all you hear. Better is the 'Early Session Mix' of "Rene" which accentuates the drums and sees the piano and organ stretch out (the lyrics still make me laugh). The opening plucked strings of "Happiness Stan" sound bare without Unwin's witty vocals following - but I love the harpsichord and keyboard playing to the fore as the song progresses. "Bun In The Oven" turns out to be an early session version of "Rollin' Over" which is rougher than the finished article but just as powerful. Even in rehearsal mode Steve Marriott lays into Brenda Holloway's Motown classic "Every Little Bit Hurts" with great results and feeling. "The Fly" is an acoustic instrumental version of "The Hungry Intruder" with a count-in and along with another band-instrumental "Kamikhazi" (so-funky-Small Faces) for me are the highlights on here.

The cracking non-album B-side to "Afterglow Of Your Love" is "Wham Bam Thank You Man" - but it’s nowhere to be seen. Nor is the near 7-minute Alternate Stereo version of “Wham…” that turned up on the "Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Launderette" 2CD set in 1999 - strange omissions to say the least. Maybe they're been kept back for that other missing piece in the jigsaw - the Immediate Records double-album "Autumn Stone" from 1969? Most fans will already have "Wham Bam..." track from preceding comps of course - but it's a point worth making. And bluntly I miss the sheer visual impact of the vinyl album artwork...(vinyl is due in full repro glory soon).

To sum up - while Disc 2 may not exactly set the Universe on fire - there are some unheard nuggets worth the admission price. But for me it's the brilliantly released remasters that thrill the most. Both Jones and McLagan are to be praised for keeping the recorded legacy of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane alive - and in such style.

What a band - and what an album. 44 years on and it still blows you away.

"What up man!" indeed.

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