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Monday, 24 April 2017
The Small Faces: Surviving TV Performances 1965-1977/Unreleased Songs
Considering that they weren't around for that long, The Small Faces were very busy boys indeed when it came to promoting their back catalogue. Despite the fact that these clips only cover a period of slightly less than three years (barring two videos made by the 1977 reunion band) there's an impressive lot here and compared to many of their peers from the mid-1960s The Small Faces have come through the great TV archive dumping refreshingly well with only at most an extra couple of clips missing from this list. That's despite the fact that The Small Faces never really managed to break through in America, generally the country most likely to have kept their music archives intact, although oddly The Faces never really did all that much for their home British market. Instead their list includes a higher percentage of European telly than any of our other bands with several performances for French, German and Swedish shows. For once fans might actually be thankful for manager Don Arden's relentless promotional schedule, even if it did contribute to wearing the band out well before their time was up.
The Small Faces are lucky too in that there's a rather good DVD gathering together many (though certainly not all) of these clips in the 'British Invasion' DVD series we've already covered in our Hollies book and released under the name 'All Or Nothing' with a new interview with drummer Kenney Jones. Along with the film 'Dateline Diamonds' (now available at last on DVD after decades of searching the TV schedules in vein) The Small Faces are rather better covered than most of our other AAA bands (though there's still more than enough for a third DVD if any archive producers are willing?...) However don't despair if there are still bits you're missing - instead head over to our very own Alan's Album Archives Youtube playlist where you can watch every clip mentioned in this post in order (or at least you can right now - do be warned that things get re-posted up and down on Youtube sometimes; we'll try and keep our list as updated as we can but there may still be something missing depending how soon after publication you try!) You can either search for 'AAA Playlist #26: The Small Faces' or go direct to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlzWxNlf9PORyqt1PAGndfnFgZgxTnfCK Unless of course you're already reading this article on our website in which case all you have to do is visit the top of the page and press 'play'.
Before we start properly, a few caveats. Though we've tried our best to be thorough there's always a chance that we've missed some clip somewhere - especially if it was only shown once late at night in Scandinavia and then forgotten about. There are too a couple of clips (from the early Decca years) that sadly don't seem to exist any more - rather than review something we can't see, we've just skipped them for safety's sake. We've also left the story when The Small Faces break up, although fans of spin-of groups The Faces and Humble Pie et al whose interested have been piqued by our articles can find plenty more footage out there, the highlights of which we've assembled at the bottom of our playlist. We also haven't included retrospective interviews, although there are plenty out there - usually featuring Mac and Kenney looking unusually thoughtful. Bear in mind too that few people were keeping an eye on dates back in the day when pop music was seen as ethereal, easily forgotten rubbish anyway, so our list may prove to be slightly out if something comes to light, although yet again The Small Faces have proved a 'lucky' band with more dates around than for most bands (a quick shout out to website 'Room For Ravers', whose TV listings were especially useful for dating this column).This band are a pretty charismatic lot, so it's a good thing so many of their clips survive to provide visuals to go alongside the music.
That's about all for now, so let's you me and Happiness Stan sit back and watch the TV as the white light slowly makes the night bright, hours slipping by while time stands still...
1.Dateline Diamonds ('I've Got Mine' Film Cameo Filmed April 1965)
At the time this felt like a big deal - even though hardly anybody knew who the one-release Small Faces were at the time, Don Arden got The Small Faces a part in a film! As it happens this low budget and very English film about a robbery is today only remembered because of its music content, with a very young Kiki Dee appearing alongside an even younger Small Faces. This is one of only two clips that have survived featuring original keyboard player Jimmy Winstun in the line-up (miming guitar, not his usual organ oddly), although Marriott's already the one your eye watches during this mimed performance shot at the end of a real show at a Watford gig organised by Radio London. The song the band are promoting is their second single and the first Marriott/Lane song released and the bands had high hopes for its performance - until the film got delayed by a year and the song was old hat, flopping badly as the band did no other real publicity for it. The 'story', such as it is, pauses as the policeman's daughter - a Small Faces fan naturally - requests the band to play their 'latest single' 'I've Got Mine' and wins a competition to attend the show. As luck would have it, two jewel thieves are trying to smuggle a bunch of precious diamonds across the borders in the control of a rock and roll manager; The Small Faces must have chuckled gleefully when they realised they could send up a man playing the part of their strict manager! The film is available on DVD, with the Small Faces bit on 'All Or Nothing', although it's worth getting the whole film if you can for the other bits and pieces as their 'biggest fan' keeps name-dropping them and playing their records!
2.Marquee Club ('Plum Nellie' 'Baby Don't Please Don't Go' 'You Need Loving' March 1966)
Only seen in brief on the 'All Or Nothing' DVD (and sadly partly covered by chat) are three early rehearsals for the band's stage show with Jimmy Winstun playing a particularly prominent role on three of the R and B songs he favoured. The band look quite scruffy by their later mod standards, sweating over their performance in a manner more like The Animals or The Rolling Stones.
3.Where The Action Is! ('All Or Nothing' 'What'cha Gonna Do 'Bout It?' US TV June 1966)
By the time The Small Faces scored their first #1 hit with 'All Or Nothing' they were being groomed to break America, but as it turned out the Americans were only ever interested in 'Itchycoo Park' years later and The Small Faces never appeared on TV there again. It's interesting that The Small Faces were booked not for primetime TV ('The Ed Sullivan Show') or manic teenage buffoonery ('Hullabaloo'!) but on the slightly staid middle ground between the two, the spin-off of 'American Bandstand' that ran two years before being deemed too 'square'. Advertised as 'the Sha-La-La_la-Lee band' The Small Faces play to a crowd outside the studio (a regular 'Action' feature) and give a most manic performance with Ronnie especially appearing to develop a twitch. The band only mime and appear in long shot for most of the two songs, which is a pity, but it's the fault of the cameramen not the band who are giving this big break their absolute all. This is the earliest picture of Mac playing with the band and he looks deeply embarrassed by it all!
4.Hey Girl (Music Video 1966)
An unusual video which was rarely screened at the time and features no actual performance of the music at all. Instead this clip is an 'A Hard Day's Night' clone as the band rush around some very English landmarks such as London red busses (or at least they would be red if this wasn't in black-and-white...), get chased by girls and generally make a nuisance of themselves. Featured on the 'All Or Nothing' DVD.
5.All Or Nothing (Music Video 1966)
Why are The Small Faces playing on an un-named street corner somewhere in the middle of Europe on what's clearly a freezing cold night? Nobody seems to know, least of all the band who are clearly deeply cold and want to go home and yet are still early enough into this pop lark to force a grin for the cameras. Thankfully, given the climate, the band mime rather than perform live, with Mac getting the giggles as, perched over Steve's shoulder, he misses his cue. Also on the 'All Or Nothing' DVD.
6.Beat Beat Beat ('Hey Girl' 'Hey Girl' 'What'cha Gonna Do About It?' 'Sha-La-La-Lee' German TV September 1966)
One of my favourites of all the many AAA TV clips out there, this one for German telly is hysterical. The band are on manic, happy form and can't stop joking with the hapless TV presenter who can't comprehend their cockney English, the cameraman who can't keep up with their jiggling in close-up, the audience who keep shouting out questions to fill in time (what on earth does Marriott answer with 'Yes I do - all the time'?!) and the band themselves, with Steve mischievously introducing Ronnie by his private nickname 'Plonk'. The performances are sensational: ragged and raw but with Marriott at the absolutely top of his game as he roars his way through four of the band's first five singles. Given that we're still in relatively early psychedelic times here his guitar solos are a revelation, full of fire and feedback and way beyond the more restrictive sound of the singles, with Marriott not even caring what he's playing by the end of 'Gonna Do'. The rest of the band are great too though: Ronnie Lane is the perfect foil, pushing Marriott ever onwards to perform, new boy Mac has the space to add a far more 'mod' sound to even the early singles he never played on and Kenney Jones plays with all the power and energy of Keith Moon at this stage in his life, whatever Who fans think of his later performances with that very band. Tonight even 'Sha La La La Lee' sounds palatable with an ending that just won't stop as the band are having so much fun they simply refuse to get off stage. A truly classic performance, regularly repeated on VH1 (or at least it was last time I had the channel many years ago!) and largely available on 'All Or Nothing', although sadly that very track and much of the speech is cut.
7.Pop Report (UK TV October 1966)
Suddenly catching on to the idea that Swinging London, the in place to be, was right on their door-step loads of grown-ups suddenly turned up with film cameras around six months after the kids had moved on to something else. Along with The Kinks, The Small Faces were persuaded to mess around in Carnaby Street for a photo-shoot generally set to 'All Or Nothing' in the background. The band certainly look smart and dapper and it must have shocked many mums and dads at the time to see these young teens being treated respectably by the posh tailors, but the band can't stay serious for long and are soon mucking about with flat caps. Part of this footage was used in 'All Or Nothing'.
8.My Mind's Eye (Music Video 1967)
Though it looks as if it was shot the same day in Carnaby Street, more footage was used to advertise a very different song on French TV, with someone figuring that as the band liked playing around with their caps so much they should be given more hats as props. They were probably regretting that decision soon afterwards as the band mess around even more! 'My Mind's Eye' is even more incongruous a backing than 'All Or Nothing'!
9.Talk To You (Music Video 1967)
The Small Faces have reverted back to mufti for this rarely seen clip, although the settings continue to be upmarket with the band performing in what looks like a stately house. Marriott misses his mimed vocal cues and unusually sings with his eyes tight shut, but he still turns in a great performance complete with leaps into the air. Ronnie, without much to do in this song, simply laughs his way through it.
10.Beat Club #1 ('I Can't Make It' German TV May 1967)
Having made such a big splash on the sister show 'Beat Beat Beat', a suddenly psychedelic Small Faces perform in cravats and paisley coats. Marriott gives his all once again, though not usually when the camera's in close-up as he struggles to remember his words. Ronnie might well have been having an early bad ms day as he leans on an amplifier at the back of the stage throughout, though he's giving plenty too. This puts Mac at the front of the stage for the first time and he's more than up to it. A fun and all too rarely seen clip.
11.Beat Club #2 ('Here Comes The Nice' German TV June 1967)
Invited back to plug their next single, this one is much the same with a smartly dressed band miming once again but with Ronnie thankfully standing again now. Parts of this clip were shown in 'All Or Nothing'.
12.Unknown ('Here Comes The Nice' French TV 1967)
Next the band hopped over to France for a more low-key appearance now dressed in their old t-shirts and jeans. Oddly most of the performance features the band stood behind the two TV presenters who have their backs to the camera with a whacking great piano in the way too! Seemingly only a very low quality print of this clip has survived, which is probably why it's not officially available on anything.
13.Beat Club #3 ('Green Circles' 'Itchycoo Park' 'I'm Only Dreaming' German TV October 1967)
Returning to their old stomping ground The Small Faces plug not only their new A-side but also the B-side and a key album track as well. Ronnie takes a rare on-TV lead on 'Circles' and though he's less manic than Marriott and rather upstaged by the whirlwind to his right he still conveys the song well enough. Marriott looks tired on 'Itchycoo' and already seems slightly fed up of the song, while the German TV director figures this would be an apt song to add lots of swirling patterns around the band (only, this being black and white, they just look like a big black blob chasing the band instead). Marriott gets lots of close-ups for 'Dreaming' before the song suddenly explodes into a free-for-all in the second half. Good fun.
14.The Morecambe and Wise Show ('I Can't Make It' 'All Or Nothing' UK TV October 1967)
This fascinating clip features two lots of legends at a time of transition for both of them. Morecambe and Wise (or 'Morey, Cambey and Wisey' according to an Ed Sullivan introduction) were at this point in the last of their original format series 'Two Of A Kind', with The Small Faces some of the last guests they had before being re-branded in colour as 'Morecambe and Wise' with Eddie Braben as a regular script writer. The pair don't get much interaction with the band who only sing but are introduced as the punch-line to a seemingly never-ending skit about Eric taking pictures of Ernie's wife (not often mentioned on screen) and offering to take his picture instead - though Ernie's face is a little too big. He needs a smaller face naturally...Unusually for this period both songs are performed live and sound great with Mac now covering most of the tune and Marriott's guitar mainly playing single chords of wild fury. This wild arm-waving performance is one of Marriott's best and possibly the only clip ever broadcast showing him sporting a braces and neckerchief combination. Both clips appeared in 'All Or Nothing'.
15.Popside ('Tin Soldier' 'Itchycoo Park' 'My Way Of Giving' 'Talk To You' 'Rollin' Over' Swedish TV March 1968)
By now The Small faces were so big in Europe they got their own mini-show in Sweden, complete with a big opening of all their, ahem, faces intercut with their names in the style of The Monkees' opening credits and the band play in front of a giant painting of their name. Though mimed, many of the mixes used in this show sound slightly different - there's more PP Arnold on 'Tin Soldier' for instance and more acoustic guitar on 'My Way Of Giving'. A long-haired Marriott gives his most intense performance yet but the rest of the band look either bored or fed up (has there been a row? Steve and Ronnie spend most of this special with their backs to each other and don't look at each other once, which is unusual). Though there's nothing revolutionary here, this show features many of the band's best songs and is well worth looking out, despite the sad fact that none of it has ever been officially released to date (were the rights too hard to get for the 'All Or Nothing' DVD?!) 'Rollin' Over' gets its debut here, a full two months before appearing on 'Ogden's - it's odd actually that the band don't play more from an album that's virtually finished by this stage.
16.Beat Club #4 ('Tin Soldier' German TV April 1968)
Oh dear. Proof that it isn't only the BBC who keeps messing things up arrives in the form of a Beat Club segment that goes a bit wrong. The announcer introduces the band and the record begins playing, but no band appears. Rather hastily the director cuts to some toy soldier cut-outs they've got ready for the set but realises he can't stay there forever so desperately pans over to the stage...where only Mac sits forlornly, rather sheepishly exaggerating miming his chords and shrugging his shoulders when he realises the others haven't arrived yet and the game is up. It seems as if The Small Faces blew their chance at plugging their new single as the announcer, impressively quickly, decides to pull the song mid-way through and go to Scott Mackenzie instead.
17.Tiemerklanken('Talk To You' 'Rollin' Over' Belgium TV Mid 1968)
More intriguing mimery from Belgium as The Small Faces perform two of their set regulars, thankfully in a happier frame of mind than the last clip. Both of these videos appeared in 'All Or Nothing'.
18.Colour Me Pop ('Song Of A Baker' 'Lazy Sunday' Happiness Stan' 'Rollin' Over' 'The Hungry Intruder' 'The Journey' 'Mad John' 'Happydaystoytown' UK TV June 1968)
We've already covered the five surviving Colour Me Pop appearances elsewhere on, naturally enough, our 'top five' column. Suffice to say this fascinating TV series deserved to be better remembered, with bands given the chance to play pretty much whatever they wanted for a full half hour as the singles market began to give way to albums. The Small Faces were only the second band ever to appear, a week after Manfredd Mann. With Ogden's just out, the band concentrate on that with eight mimed performances including a few tracks like the gorgeous 'Song Of A Baker' and the silly 'Happydaystoytown' that rarely get performed on camera again. Most of the show is taken up with Ogden's second side and it's only natural for that album's narrator Professor Stanley Unwin to get involved and he delivers a whole new script that veers away quite a lot from the original at times ('This is the old-type charabanc that was f-t-f-t-flat and could squash your toe-nails and beggar thy neighbours!') Unusually the band sing 'Happydaystoytown' all together grouped round a microphone grooving along quite naturally, looking very startled when the announcer begins speaking over the top. Note a slightly different mix on 'Rollin' Over' (with Ronnie more to the fore), Ronnie sitting down for most songs in the 'suite' once more and the band getting the giggles during an extended organ trill from 'Mac' (which presumably was on the original record and got edited out - it catches the band by surprise here!) However the most 'interesting' performance here is probably 'Lazy Sunday' which features a specially made promo film made on location around London and which features Marriott asleep in his 'garden' and being hit over the head with a record by his grumpy neighbour! The whole band then dress up in outrageous period dress (Mac appears to be wearing a table-cloth!) for a quick dance. The most 'Monkees' like of all the Small Faces clips, it's a surprise that the band agreed to do it given how hard they tried to stop this uncharacteristic song from coming out as a single! 'Song Of A Baker' regularly appears in 'The Sounds Of The Sixties' compilation repeats shown on the BBC and that song along with the entire 'Happiness Stan' suite appear on the '#All Or Nothing' DVD. Stay cool cats won't you?
19.Beat Club #5 ('Lazy Sunday' German TV June 1968)
All seems to have been forgiven over The Small Faces' non-appearance last time - or has it? This oft-seen clip of the band disappearing and re-appearing Tardis-style seems in retrospect like a giggle made at the band's extent but the band gamely play along, looking surprised whenever they 're-appear'! Watch out for Marriott's comedy moment 'falling asleep' during the last reprise before getting woken up by Lane's fat bass guitar! Oft repeated and officially available on the 'All Or Nothing' DVD.
20.Surprise Partie ('Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' 'Song Of A Baker' 'Rollin' Over' French TV December 1968)
Broadcast a mere three weeks before the band's split (though in all likelihood recorded a bit earlier), we're really getting near the end now with another appearance on French TV. The band give a colourful performance against a colourful background of flashing lights (and while wearing colourful clothes - or Kenney is at any rate in a bright orange jumper), playing some rarer album material from 'Ogden's over their usual singles. By 'Rollin' Over' Marriott has given up his usual playful expression for the more serious head-banging he'll use more and more i the Humble Pie years. Only the Ogden's title track has been released officially, on the 'All Or Nothing' DVD.
21.Bouton Rouge ('Itchycoo Park' 'If You Think You're Groovy' 'Tin Soldier' French TV late 1968)
Sometimes just before or just after the last performance (we don't know for certain which was the last) The Small Faces played an interesting performance for another French station. This time the band sing and play along with the original record, Marriott desperately trying to remember the words to 'Itchycoo' and adding in a few extra 'oo-ee-oo's along the way. The band hang around long enough to provide backing to fellow Immediate artist P P Arnold and promote a very different sounding mix of their joint release 'If You Think You're Groovy'. Marriott and Lane have clearly provided some lovely 'aaah' harmonies on the original tape that got mixed out of the record and Marriott has a great time competing with his new sparring partner! This performance was no doubt a big reason behind his decision to nag the others into getting female backing singers full-time, something he'll only do for real in Humble Pie's middle years. Better yet PP stays on stage for a unique performance of 'Tin Soldier', with everyone singing along to the record (which sounds as if it's playing a bit too fast here!) 'Arrrrre you with me?' revs up PP, but actually Marriott gives his most low-key performance in this list, perhaps sensing he can't compete with PP's soulful voice. Marriott finally gets his groove on for the big finale and goes into top arm-waving frenzy but PP looks most non-plussed answering him equally with every 'oh-hey-yeah' and dancing prettily at half speed to his manic gestures. A priceless clip, sadly still unseen officially.
22.Old Grey Whistle Test ('All Or Nothing' 'High and Happy' UK TV 1977)
By the time of The Small Faces reunion Marriott is no longer the impossibly talented impish teenager everyone remembers and looks weary and tired, with several exhausting Humble Pie tours having worn him out. He certainly seems to have aged far more than the nine year gap between clips. Mac and Kenney though are keyed up, buoyed by their extra success in The Faces, while Ronnie - probably wisely - sat this reunion out after the first couple of rehearsals. The OGWT is kind of the 1970s equivalent of 'Colour Me Pop' but by 1977 was in the doldrums, trapped between prog and punk and falling between two stools. Alas The Small faces are nearer prog, with a Humble Pie-style imperturbably slow take on 'All Or Nothing' that loses much of the original arrangement's magic ('That was one of our more succcessful records we never got paid for!' mumbles Marriott afterwards), although 'High and Happy' sounds more enthusiastic with Marriott digging out an energetic performance from somewhere even though the song sounds too right when he complains 'I been on this long hard road for ten years!'
23.Stand By Me (Music Video 1978)
With Humble Pie and The Faces now over, this reunion could have carried on in perpetuity had a lack of sales and interest not brought it to a halt after two disappointing albums. Marriott, though, was already hatching up plans for a new look band, with Mac and Kenney looking on aghast as he brought in extra 'friends' just like he threatened to back in 1968. The one he brings with him here is Jimmy McCulloch who quit Paul McCartney's Wings to work with one of his favourite bands and who ended up dying of a drugs overdose less than a year after this, his last filmed performance. Though it lacks the subtlety Ronnie once brought to the band, the yearning Marriott ballad 'Stand By Me' was one of the better songs from the 'Made In The Shade' album and the band put in a pretty darn good performance here.
This would normally be the point in the
book where we discuss an AAA band's best unreleased songs. However a
combination of the fact The Small Faces didn't make many to start with and
Immediate's financial problems leading them to raid the studio coffers on such
a regular basis they've released almost everything means that there are
disappointingly few. There are, though, a handful of songs that might be worth
your while looking out for. First are two BBC sessions which oddly enough
didn't make the official BBC Sessions set despite existing in pretty good
sound: a smokey take of 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' that's a tad flatter than
the album version but still more than releasable and an intriguing cover of The
Temptations' 'Get Ready' performed by the band during their last BBC set
together in April 1968 (was this song loosely sketched in for the fourth album
that became 'The Autumn Stone'?!) This version is an instrumental with Mac
effectively on lead while Marriott's guitar sounds more like a lawnmower. Back
in the studio there's a great un-named lengthy jam that was recorded during the
Ogden's sessions but has yet gone uncollected by Immediate. An upbeat organ-led
original with a nervy, restless rhythm it sounds at one with 'Picaninny' and
'Colibosher' but more obviously a backing track that's waiting to have vocals
added rather than an instrumental from the start. What those words are those
has been rather lost in time though sadly. Ronnie gets a rare 'My Generation'
style bass solo in the middle. In terms of alternate takes there's yet another
version of 'Have You Ever Seen Me?' (the fourth?) which rather than just being
a different mix sounds like a complete re-make - or more likely the first
discarded version given that the band are all over the place. Ronnie gets more
'heh heh heh's in, Marriott does something very weird to the double tracking,
the echo machine keeps cutting in and out and the whole thing sounds much
scruffier even compared to the unfinished 'Decca' version from 'In The
Beginning', though it's not unpleasant by any means. Finally, goodness knows
why Immediate have released multiple mixes of 'Wide-Eyed Girl On The Wall' but
never the full song, complete with a full ending and around fifteen seconds
longer than even the box set mix. There's a number of other oddities too with
Mac's organ part sounding more like a steel drum, lots of banging percussion
that sounds like Kenney hitting a load of pots and pans and a far bigger part
for the horn section who are there for colour and texture rather than melody,
mainly switching between three blared notes. Maybe the next Small Faces Immediate
compilation - and there hasn't been one for a year or so which means there are
probably lots on the way soon - will round up some of these forgotten gems!
That's all for now, but there'll be more Small Faces madness next week!