Released on June 23, 1967, Small Faces was the second record of the group led by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, being the first to release on the Immediate label and the second which was named after them. To complicate things further, their ex-label Decca had released another record, From the Beginning barely three weeks before this one. Yet, both albums couldn’t be more different, the one concerning us here is a beauty from start to finish where the mod group that went from being a great R&B band to flirt with blossoming psychedelica. It is, if not the best, the most emblematic record of their short career.
Here is where Marriott, a great guitarist on his own account, focusses on the composition together with Lane and where he brings an incredible collection of short songs, 14 in less than 30 mins, in which they start to experiment with other things and where the voice shines again, a voice that could rival the best black soul singers.
(Tell Me) Have you Ever Seen Me is a charming beginning with Marriott howling on the most used instrument on the record, his Gibson J-160E acoustic. Something I Want to Tell You, has Lane on vocals in a song with a real hero, Ian McLagan on piano and a steaming Hammond B3 organ. Feeling Lonely uses the clavichord, so commonly used back then, and compliments another lovely vocal by Marriott. Happy Boys Happy is an instrumental to the glory of McLagan’s Hammond. Things Are Going to Get Better is another of the great tunes on the record with Marriott on acoustic guitar, and singing with that lovely voice. My Way of Giving is another gem in tandem Marriott/Lane with a psychedelic aftertaste in the melody and Marriott doubling on both electric and acoustic guitars to accompany those 2 glorious minutes that Rod Stewart (one of the men, together with Ronnie Wood, that were needed to replace him in the band) would envision in 1970. Green Circles is one of the psychedelic peaks by the band and uses Lane as lead singer, although Marriott is well heard on the background vocals.
Side B opens with Become Like You, one of Marriott’s great ballads, using little more than his J-160E (although McLagan tickles the Hammond here and there) and his gifted voice. Followed by Get Yourself Together with which the Small Faces show once again that they are a great R&B band and have one of the most soulful white singers in history. All of Your Yesterdays is pure British soul with Lane again on lead vocals backed by a fine wind arrangement. Talk to You is one of the rock songs on the record and gives us a future view of both the Faces and Marriott with Humble Pie, his voice shines in this song, as always, and with a great riff on his Telecaster. Show Me the Way is the 2nd great number sung by Lane with yet another marvelous melancholic feel and psychedelic touches thanks to McLagan’s clavichord. Up the Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire was composed and sung by McLagan who also brilliantly tickles the ivories. The last track is Eddie’s Dreaming, sung by Lane, with a very interesting percussion and winds that give it a decidedly optimistic feel, capable of making your ears smile.
To finish up we mustn’t forget that this record was created at the same time as many of their iconic singles such as Tin Soldier, Here Comes the Nice, I’m Only Dreaming, I Feel Much Better and Itchycoo Park which proves the band was living one of the most inspirational moments of their career. In the U.S., seeing their potential, they would change some songs on the original LP to leave room for them and titled the record as There Are But Four Small Faces. In 1997 they released a version that combined songs from both records. It is evident proof that although they may not be at the same level as the 4 greats of the British Invasion, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, and the Kinks, the Small Faces is the best of the outstanding second tier that would compose themselves, the Animals, Yardbirds, Zombies or Pretty Things.