Without a doubt, May 7th has got to be one of the most anticipated day's in the wonderful world of Small Faces history.Many fans worldwide have waited in anticipation for the latest Small Faces cd's for what is said to be the only time the band have been remastered from the original master tapes, every other Small Faces CD release to date has been copied from either very clean vinyl/very clean vinyl masters or just other previously issued CD's! This is the first time these issues are coming direct from the master tapes and the difference is clear. Your ears are going to be saying 'thankyou'. .
So, what have we got that we haven't had before? basically, everything. Master tape quality, Stereo and mono remastered versions. Alternate mixes. Unreleased tracks and absolutely awesome packaging with very informative trivia and information, especially with who plays what on all tracks. For years fans have asked "Which tracks did Jimmy Winston" play on on the first Decca album?" and "who played what instruments?". Well now you can all find out with these excellent sleeve notes. Jimmy Winston adds to this story: "The Small Faces wanted to express themselves. On 'I've Got Mine', they certainly did just that. Steve's vocal was powerful, and the churning groove was driven by a guitar riff played through a Leslie organ cabinet. That thrilling lick lifts I've Got Mine towards psychedelic status - two years ahead of time. That was me! grins Jim. I'd like credit for that! I had a double keyboard Vox Continental organ, but I knew someone who made Leslie. I got him to make me one to make the Vox sound better, and asked him to put a guitar input on it. I loved it. In that song, I tried the guitar through a Leslie - that riff wasn't overcomplicated but the effect ...!. Had anyone played guitar through a Leslie before? I don't think so."
For those asking "what has happened with the "Autumn Stone" remasters?". Well lets not forget that the Autumn Stone album was basically a compilation with a few added new/unfinished tracks but the full album will be released in 2013. In the meantime a new box set is also planned for release later in 2012 which will include all of the "Autumn Stone" (unreleased) tracks along with some cracking Immediate era outtakes. Rob Caiger has done the most amazing job searching and finding a lot of the lost tapes of the Small Faces. I asked Rob to give us more info on the upcoming box set: "Certain 'Autumn Stone' tracks will feature on the box set, the live material definitely, taken from a master tape prepared for a cancelled US release that has a clearer mix but the album itself will be available later, in the next phase. I'm looking at a 5 CD limited edition at most and 4 CD regular edition. Decca material aside (as there isn't anything else surviving - it's all on the deluxe's bar one track) there'll be very little duplication for the Immediate tracks on the box set to what is on the deluxe editions, maybe 7-10 tracks. Not finalised yet as certain sessions / songs have to be mixed from multi-track and sometimes you don't know where that leads you in presenting a song in a way that hasn't been heard before - bit cryptic, but it'll become clearer when we put up preview material from the studio on the new website."
There is also a lot more stuff to come. Kenney Jones recently said "there is more stuff that we're finding even now. I've got a lot more tapes that I didn't realise I had; every night when we'd (small Faces) finished recording I'd ask Glyn Johns to do me a copy of what we'd done that day which I've just found, there's all kinds of different stuff in there. We couldn't hold up what we've already planned with the new remasters but it's nice to have something for the future". So, what can be said about the Small Faces that hasn't already been said? And why does the band still have such a huge following from the 60s? The answer is easy really. Lead singer Steve Marriott is the greatest white soul singer to come out of the UK. Steve sings with heartfelt passion with lung bursting vocal gymnastics. Ronnie plays absorbing bass lines. Ian plays epic keyboards, Kenney plays propulsive drumming. This is boosted by the tight chemistry and creative fires between all members clearly demonstrating each other's signature styles. Their songs are well crafted melodies, rootsy with melodic guitar riffs which are delightfully infectious, and outrageously good. All in all the perfect band that stand up and flourish, elevated by a unique mod image. the release of these 2012 remasters brings out the best in the Small Faces, well crafted for essential listening.
Listening to the Decca remasters I am very impressed with the "Electronically Processed Stereo". I'm hearing things I have not heard before. My friend Tosh Flood, guitarist with the band Pugwash who has also been involved with the remasters says of the new EPS versions: "There was no Stereo masters made of all those "EPS" tracks at the time they were recorded. Decca only worked in Mono.In 1979 with the Mod Revival happening Decca did a run of Electronically Processed Stereo versions from the original analogue tapes - this is what you're hearing on the remasters, making this the first time they've been released on CD". ... So listening now to songs like "All Or Nothing", "Understanding", "I've Got Mine", "Sorry She's Mine", "It's Too Late" etc is now like listening to them in 3D.
Out of interest aswell. There was only two singles by the Small Faces on Decca mixed in "true" stereo: Sha La La La Lee and I Can't Make It. The stereo version of Sha La La La Lee on these 2012 remasters was found at Sony in Japan - That would have been done and exported to Japan for release. Not forgetting the Immediate era remasters, they are nothing short of a mindblast! The sound is so clear and better mixed you can now actually hear Billy Nicholls involvement with the vocals. All other mixes/releases have left Billy right down in the mix. Ronnie Lane is brought right up with his meaty bass lines and its like being sat in the studio next to him.
The artwork and new design of the package for Ogdens is especially awesome. New Tobacco tin designs, with music paper clippings, worldwide single 45's sleeves, and very informative sleeve notes. We all know the track listings, so what of the new stuff? The USA mixes of "Afterglow", "Long Agos", "Song Of A Baker", "Lazy Sunday" are truly excellent and you are in for a real treat with the instrumental versions of "Ogdens (session version)", "Happiness Stan", "The Fly", "Mad John" and new track "Kamikhazi". Listening to these tracks through headphone's sends you in to a different dimension.
All in all, everything has been worth the wait. You will not be disappointed. The quality of all tracks on all the cd's are just simply out of this world. A massive thank you must go to Nick Robbins and Rob Keyloch for the remastering, sound mastering, and tape restoration.