When the great bands of the 1960s are brought up, the Small Faces rarely get a mention. Perhaps it’s because they later morphed into The Faces featuring Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, or perhaps it’s because of the rather innocuous first few singles the band recorded that smacked of pandering to a teenybopper mentality. But as this excellent documentary makes clear, for a couple of years (1967-1968), the Small Faces were right up there with The Beatles, The Who and The Stones, pushing rock & roll into new and exciting territories. This DVD release features 27 complete performances by the four-piece band -Steve Marriott (guitar & vocals), Ronnie Lane (bass & vocals), Ian McLagan (keyboards), Kenney Jones (drums) – many of them never available on DVD before. The band’s story is told with new interviews by surviving members Jones and McLagan and archival interviews from Marriott and Lane, who both died during the 1990s. Also chiming in is Jimmy Winston, an original member of the band who left in 1965. The band members express their frustration at being forced by manager/producer Don Arden to record trivial tunes written by outsiders such as Sha La La La Lee, while Marriott and Lane were ready to write their own hits. Finally, they got out from under Arden’s influence and signed with Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label where they cut such classics as Tin Soldier and Itchycoo Park. The band members are quite frank, even shocked, about the drug references in their songs and the inner workings of the band.
The producers have gone the extra mile to locate rare clips from many sources including seven tracks from their groundbreaking album, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. The DVD package included extensive liner notes and photos and is a first-class production all the way. Extras include the performance without the interviews and the last filmed interview with Ronnie Lane, recorded in 1988.
This is part of a new “British Invasion” series of releases that also included Herman’s Hermits, Gerry & The Pacemakers and Dusty Springfield. The series is produced by the same folks who released the Definitive Motown DVD series and the American Folk Blues Festival DVD series. Hopefully there will be more to follow.