Sunday, September 23, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Small Faces

Artist:Small Faces
Song:Itchycoo Park
Album:Ultimate Collection

Itchycoo Park is the best known song and the biggest hit for the British group Small Faces. They had success in England but Itchycoo Park was their only hit in the US. The band was adversely affected by management problems. Lead singer and guitarist Steve Marriott performed as a child and played The Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver! in 1960. But he preferred music and released a single in 1963 and led his band The Moments. He was fired in 1964 because the band thought he was too young to be a lead singer. Marriott met bassist Ronnie Lane when Lane came into the music store where Marriott was working to buy a bass guitar. Marriott invited Lane and friend drummer Kenney Jones to his home to jam. Marriott brought in his keyboard player friend Jimmy Winston and Small Faces was born. The band name was to appeal to the Mods in London. Initially they played R & B covers and they were spotted by manager Don Arden and he got them a contract with Decca. They had mixed success and Arden worked them way too hard sometimes booking them three gigs a night. Then Winston was fired and replaced by Ian McLagan. Winston wanted to write songs and sing. The rest of the band said no. The group had success with hits like Sha-La-La-La-Lee and All Or Nothing and they were about to tour the US. But Ian McLagan was busted for drugs and they split with Arden. Small Faces signed with former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and his label Immediate. They worked with veteran recording engineer Glyn Johns. When Itchycoo Park was released, it got the attention of Columbia Records and they released the album There Are But Four Small Faces in the US. The song reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. There is no Itchycoo Park. Lane based it on his memories of a park he used to go to that had nettles so he was itchy all the time. The 1968 album Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake was hailed as a masterpiece and it also came in a round album cover resembling a tobacco tin. But Marriott realized he couldn't perform the music live and he quit Small Faces during a 1968 New Year's Eve show. Marriott formed Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. They had some success in the early 70s but faded and split in 1975. The rest of the band brought in Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood of The Jeff Back Group. They signed with Warner Bros. and changed the band name to Faces. They had some success but of course they became Stewart's band when he became a solo star. Faces split up in 1974. Small Faces reunited in 1975 and recorded two unsuccessful albums. Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He died in 1997. Steve Marriott's career floundered until his death in a house fire in 1991. Kenney Jones joined The Who after Keith Moon died. For years the Small Faces recordings were mired in legal issues but Sanctuary Records got that straightened out and released this 2CD comp that is worth getting. It has Decca and Immediate recordings. Small Faces were a very underrated band. Here is Small Faces performing Itchycoo Park on the German TV show Beat Club 1967.

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