Friday, February 21, 2014

Here Come The Nice: The Small Faces Immediate box digested and dissected

The whole shebang on my dining room table (London underground coaster and wicker place mats not included)
The Small Faces "Here Come the Nice" box set has been in the works for some time now.  It wasn't and isn't cheap and like The Action book from last year the decision to purchase it did not come without some seriously hard contemplation. But being a Small Faces fan for over 32 years I decided it would be the last huge purchase of their stuff and didn't think twice about suspending visits to the pub for a month or so to come up with the bread to cover it.

A lot of folks (myself included) were a bit dismayed that there would still be stuff to put out seeing as their four "proper" (ie released while they were still a functioning band) U.K. LP's had been reissued in Deluxe double CD form.  The question remained: how much COULD there be left?!  What Charly has done is take all the band's Immediate era recordings (done between 1967 and 1969) in mono/stereo, demo and sometimes backing track form and splash them over 4 CD's.  All from original master tapes (the story of how many of them were tracked down is almost a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" epic of sorts and is chronicled in the book that comes with the set). There is a great deal of overkill if like me you enthusiastically previously purchased the recent deluxe versions of their Immediate era LP's. Disc one(Worldwide A's B's and EP's") is entirely mono mixes said  tracks, nothing new here, move along.  Disc two ("The Small Faces In The Studio:Olympic, IBC and Trident Sessions") is best described as a "Beatles Anthology" style collection of fans only minutia: backing tracks, false starts, studio chatter, alternate mixes of unfinished tracks all in stereo or mono. A cursory glance of unheard of titles like "Wit Art Yer", "Doolally", "Shades Of Green", "Anything" and "Saide Mamoon" had me hoping for new and unheard of tunes but these are merely original working titles of tracks we all have heard before. Disc three ("The Small Faces In The Studio:Olympic, IBC and Trident Sessions-Part 2") features more of the same with new titles like "This Feeling Of Spring", "Jack" "Fred", "Kolomodelomo" and "Jenny's Song" to "old" songs, in similar forms as described as above.  However we are treated to one new to our ears number: "Mind The Doors Please". Sadly it's a meandering 5 minute 4 second jam between Ronnie and Kenny that's as equally ponderous and disposable as Syd Barrett's famed 20 minute 14 second jam "Rhamadan". Disc four ("Out-Take And In-Concert") offers alternate mixes of finished tracks and the 5 song live set from a November 18, 1968 gig at Newcastle City Hall. The later is remastered at it's correct speed and has the dubbed on in the studio screams removed (though the gig's actual screams and fuzzy instrumentation/vocal's low in the mix quality is still present).  That said I enjoyed disc two and three because it's damned fascinating to hear songs like (for example) "Green Circles", "I Can't Make It" or "Donkey Rides A Penny A Glass" in almost stillborn form on their way to becoming the tunes we now know and love, warts and all (example Steve stopping the recording and telling Kenny how the drums should come in on "Things Are Going To Get Better" or Steve instructing Mac to go up an octave on what would become "Tin Soldier" and shouting to tape op George Chkiantz in an Irish accent). Granted these may seem mundane to someone who owns a Small Faces album or two but for those of us who  would be classified as "the serious fan" it's something of a second coming.  But there's loads of other goodies that justify the $154.00 charged me (WAY cheaper from my original UK pre-order from Charly for well past $200, which I luckily cancelled thanks to my good pal Johnny Bluesman who's eagle eye spotted this more affordable pre-order from

The box.
Enclosed in a large 12" X 12" box are a hardbound book with loads of color and black and white photographs telling not only the band's story on Immediate (and as mentioned above how the master tapes were located) but a blow by blow description of the music contained on the four CD's housed within it's flaps (virtually everything the band recorded while with Immediate), an essay on their photographs by Gered Mankowitz and several pages of tribute quotes by a host of rock n' rollers on their favorite band (from members of Kiss to Pink Floyd to local boys The Smithereen's drummer Dennis Diken). There are two facsimile 8 x 10 promo photos, a mock up of an Immediate press kit for the band, two posters (one replicating the "Tin Soldier" picture sleeve the other for a gig at Newcastle City Hall with PP Arnold, The Nice, Gary Walker & The Rain etc), a book of the lyrics for all of their Immediate era songs with photos and five postcards (1 band pic and an individual one of each member) and most interestingly of all a numbered certificate of authenticity actually signed by Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan. But it does not end there kids.  There are but four 7" records within as well: a mock up one sided acetate of "Mystery" (an interesting alternate mix of "Something I Want To Tell You" from a projected but scraped 45 idea), a repro of their Album Sampler (a one sided 7" of various tracks from their untitled 1st Immediate LP strung together by a voiceover DJ Tommy Vance on red vinyl), a repro of their French "Here Come the Nice" E.P. (white vinyl) and a repro of their French "Itchycoo Park" E.P. (on blue vinyl). All of which sound amazing!

There are but four 7 inches...
Like me by now you've no doubt soured on shelling out any more dough on The Small Faces catalog but if you're a fan like me then you've more than likely got this already. Sadly it appears as though it's already in the process of vanishing as Amazon has it listed as only available "New and used from these sellers" starting at $250.00. He who hesitates....

Ronnie and Steve performing "Itchycoo Park" on TV Autumn '67 not yet shedding their mod togs.

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