Released in 1968 on the ill fated Immediate Record Label, Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake was The Small Faces developing from their RnB routes, merging it with their new found Psychedelic side (as seen with songs like Itchycoo Park and That Man), entering the world of the concept album and producing their finest collection of songs to date, which left the band number one in the UK Charts for six continuous weeks yet ultimately cast an undeniable shadow over the band's future.
Side 1 of Ogdens Nut Gone Flake contains songs which would later become the measure for what defies a Small Faces song. Songs like Rene; a song about a London Docklands prostitute, and Lazy Sunday Afternoon; about feuding neighbours, were classic Marriott/Lane cockney cheeky chappy, bringing through influences for old London Music Halls from Marriott's childhood and merging it with the modern RnB Psychedelic influences they'd both picked up along the way to create what many people would term to be the unmistakable Small Faces sound.
There is also the other side of the Small Faces and in particular Marriott's soulful voice, this can be heard in all its glory on Track 2, Afterglow (of Your Love) is nothing short of brilliant, a love song with powerful soulful vocals from Marriott, matched as always by Ian McLagan's irresistible organ, underpinned by pounding rhythm from Ronnie Lane's Bass and Kenny Jones' Drums, classic Small Faces. Not only that but Side 1 begins with the title track, an instrumental, which it has to be said sounds remarkably fresh even for today's standards, so back then it must have been quite the tune with allsorts going on with it. Side 1 to summarise has everything you want from noise and in itself would make for a quality album, but what of side 2 and the concept behind that.
Well Side 2 is the story of Happiness Stan, a boy who one evening looks up at the night's sky to see that one half of the moon is missing. Told by comedic wordsmith Stanley Unwin who fills his narration with bizarrely structured sentences, backed by songs from The Small Faces, combined together they create an unusual yet fun journey. Far from being a boring 20 minute tale about lunar cycles, it's entertaining and most certainly trippy, Side 2 contains yet more quality from The Small Faces, the beefy Rollin Over, the knees up Happy Day Toy Town and the almost folk like Mad John all help make this album an unbelievable release, an audacious attempt to create an album that anyone who hears will treasure, something The Small Faces succeed with.
But it could have been much more then that, the band had plans to take the album on the road, to have it played in theatres across the land, just think Queen: The Musical but much, much better. However because the band had created what was a studio masterpiece, it was pretty difficult to try and recreate that sound live. Alas though the band didn't have that much longer together to fulfil this idea. Marriott's lust to be taken seriously and to take the band away from their pop persona, boiled over in early 1969, he soon left the band and formed Humble Pie with the fear in the back of his mind that The Small Faces would never be able to top Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake.
A sad end to the story of this album, but not one that should detract from what this album is, the work of pure genius and the highlight to a band's career for which we should all be thankful happened.