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Small Faces (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Just when the first-generation British Invasion bands galloped ahead into pop art in 1966, the Small Faces worked a heavy R&B groove on their 1966 debut. That's not to say that this group of four sharp-suited Mods was unaware of the times. If anything, no other British band of the mid-'60s were so keenly tuned into fashion, the four Small Faces capturing the style and sound of dancing, pilled-up Mods better even than the Who, possibly because the group could carry a groove better than the Who as this tightly propulsive debut amply illustrates. Like many '60s debuts, The Small Faces is split between covers, songs the label pushed on the band, and originals, some clearly interpolations of songs they'd been covering in clubs. "Come On Children" echoes James Brown's "Think" and "You Need Loving" is based on Willie Dixon's "You Need Love." Later, Led Zeppelin would rework the Small Faces' "You Need Loving" into "Whole Lotta Love" and while it's easy to hear how Steve Marriott's raw-throated howl influenced Robert Plant as much as Marriott's heavy shards of guitar influenced Jimmy Page, what's striking about The Small Faces is that there is very little blues or rock & roll here: it's all hard-charging, driving R&B and soul, the emphasis all on the groove. By stressing the beat, the Small Faces carry themselves over some slight songwriting — the band's energetic interplay gets them through the rough spots between "It's Too Late," "What'Cha Gonna Do About It," and "Sha La La La Lee" — and that concentration even pushes them into trailblazing territory, as on the lean, ominous pulse of "E Too D." Such moments keep The Small Faces sounding fearless and fresh even when in other respects it is very much a record of its time. [Universal's 2012 deluxe edition contains the mono mix of the debut album and four bonus tracks — non-LP A- and B-sides "I've Got Mine," "What's a Matter Baby," "Grow Your Own," and "Patterns" — on the first disc, and a 14-track second disc that contains alternate versions and electronically processed stereo mixes of songs from the debut.]

Biography

Formed: 1965 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Small Faces were the best English band never to hit it big in America. Outside Europe, all anybody remembers them for is their sole hit, "Itchycoo Park," which was hardly representative of their psychedelic sound, much less their full musical range — but in England, Small Faces were one of the most extraordinary and successful...
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