Monday 7 May 2012 sees the UK release of a whopping four DELUXE EDITIONS for Small Faces fans (29 May 2012 in the USA for this set) - and the unsanctioned "From The Beginning" compilation has always been a mental and financial sore point for the band.
A slung-together compilation of 7" singles, non-album B-sides, outtakes and works in progress - "From The Beginning" was put out a mere three weeks prior to their proper 2nd album on Immediate Records - the self-titled "Small Faces" (released 23 June 1967). Reeking of a royalties cash-in by ex-manager Don "People in Show Business Spend Money" Arden and contractual arrogance by Decca - it has always been seen by then evolving group as a backwards move and a bit of a 'poor show' frankly. Having said that - history's boil on the arse of the Small Faces catalogue is today's double cream éclair - because this expanded 2CD Deluxe Edition is yet another peach in this superlative run of reissues.
Here are the finite details for Universal/Sanctuary 278 134-1:
Disc 1 (52:47 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 14 are the MONO compilation LP "From The Beginning" - released 2 June 1967 in the UK on Decca LK 4879
BONUS TRACKS (15 to 19):
"Almost Grown" (15), "Understanding" (16), "I Can't Dance With You" (17), "I Can't Make It" (18) and "Just Passing" (19)
Disc 1 will also allow fans to line up the 4 x UK 7" singles that were issued (in Mono) around the LP (track number after title):
1. Hey Girl (6) b/w Almost Grown (15) - released 6 May 1966 on Decca F 12393
2. All Or Nothing (9) b/w Understanding (16) - released 5 August 1966 on Decca F 12470
3. My Mind's Eye (2) b/w I Can't Dance With You (17) - released 11 November 1966 on Decca F 12500
4. I Can't Make It (18) b/w Just Passing (19) - released 3 March 1967 on Decca F 12565
Disc 2 (53:54 minutes):
1. Runaway [Stereo]
2. That Man (Alternate Mix) [Mono]
3. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Alternate Mix) [Mono]
4. My Mind's Eye (Alternate Mix In Electronically Reprocessed Stereo)
5. Picanniny (Backing Track) [Mono]
6. Hey Girl (Different Version) [Mono]
7. Take This Hurt Off Me (Different Version) [Mono]
8. Baby Don't You Do It (Different Version) [Mono]
9. All Or Nothing (Alternate Mix In Electronically Reprocessed Stereo)
10. Understanding (Alternate Mix In Electronically Reprocessed Stereo)
11. Take To You (Take 5 - Backing Track) [Mono]
12. All Our Yesterdays (Take 7 - Backing Track) [Mono]
13. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me (Alternate Take 2) [Mono]
14. Show Me The Way (Take 3 - Backing Track) [Mono]
15. I Can't Make It (Take 11 - Backing Track) [Mono]
16. Things Are Going To Get Better (Take 14) [Mono]
Tracks 1-3, 5 and 11-16 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED VERSIONS
Tracks 4, 9 and 10 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED ON CD
The 1996 Universal single disc reissue of "From The Beginning" had 5 bonus tracks - only 2 of which turn up here - the 'Different Versions' of "Take This Hurt Off Me" and "Baby Don't You Do It" (tracks 7 and 8 on Disc 2). The other three "My Mind's Eye (French EP Version)", "Hey Girl (French EP Version)" and "What'cha Gonna Do About It (BBC Session Recoding)" are NOT on here (so don't throw away that CD just yet). Also that other 7" Decca single that would have fit the 1966-1967 time frame - "Patterns" b/w "E Too D" - has been moved onto the "Small Faces (Decca Album)" DELUXE EDITION. However - it's worth noting that according to ROB CAIGAR who oversaw these reissues - the missing/straggler tracks on this and the other 3 x double-editions will probably turn up on a SMALL FACES box set due later in 2012. That box will also feature more unreleased/related stuff - and again from best sources.
As a weary-veteran of all too many lacklustre booklets in DELUXE EDITIONS by Universal (the patchy Lizzy reissues come to mind - a feeling of what we can get away with) - this is first time I've seen them put in genuine effort and the results are BEAUTIFUL. The 24-page booklet is going to come as a shock to fans - properly gorgeous colour reproductions of picture sleeves from Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Japan, Rave and Fab 208 magazine covers, early years gig posters, 7" Demos, trade adverts, reviews from Musical Express, Olympia and Decca Master Tape Boxes and other assorted publicity photos. The new liner notes are by respected writer MARK PAYTRESS and are filled with facts and recent interviews with Jones and McLagan. There's more period reviews on the fold-out flaps and beneath each see-through CD tray is the 1967 unboxed red Decca label for the original British LP (Side 1 and 2). It's 'so' well done. OK - you could say that if Bear Family was doing this then the booklet would be 64 pages and not 24 - and each of those gorgeous Picture Sleeves (usually in the hands of die-hard collectors) would have been given a page each giving you a real feel for the period. But what is here is the best they've ever done - and I can't help but think that awards may be on the horizon for the sheer quality of presentation...
But the real meat for fans will be the NEW REMASTERS from best-ever sources and overseen by surviving members of the band - KENNEY JONES and IAN McLAGAN. Tape Research and Recovery is by ROB CAIGER, Tape Restoration and Transfer from Analogue is by ROB KAYLACH and Mastering by NICK ROBBINS. Punchy, dynamic, the power of so many of these MONO tracks hasn't diminished a jot as the years have passed - Steve Marriott on "All Or Nothing", Ronnie Lane on "That Man" - Kenny Lynch singing backing on "Sha La La La Lee". And the singles are killer too - especially B-sides like the instrumental "Almost Grown" and the whimsical "Just Passing" giving an indication of the "Ogdens" period to come.
It opens well - their Small Faces stamp on Del Shannon's "Runaway" and the Alternate Takes of "That Man" and "Yesterday..." sound like The Who's early years (not a bad thing in any man's book). Their own identity finally turns up on an Alternate Take of "My Mind's Eye" while the backing track for "Picanniny" sounds like The Animals enjoying a Sixties R'n'B moment - great stuff. Their crudely-recorded cover version of Marvin Gaye's "Baby Don't Do It" is sung by original band member Jimmy Winston and is fantastic in a lo-fi garage 45 kind-of-way - absolute reeking of Sixties piss and vinegar. I had thought that the set of 'backing track' versions would be filler (some are) - but hearing Marriott's choppy guitar isolated on "Talk To You" is a blast. The band count in on "Show Me The Way" and the clarity of instruments is amazing - but it's short at just over one-minute - and the two-minutes of "All Our Yesterdays" could also be lived without too. But Disc 2 ends on a real high - Take 14 of "Things Are Going To Get Better" in glorious sound quality - an irresistibly catchy tune. I've played this in the shop a few times and customers have flipped for it (lyrics from it title this review)...
To sum up - the band may have hated "From The Beginning" because it represented where they'd been rather than where they were going. But it has to be said that in terms of sound and sheer presentation - this new 2012 2CD DELUXE EDITION and the first Decca album are equal to their more revered Immediate sets. Up their with The Kinks reissues of 2011 - these are absolute must owns.
As Steve Marriott sang "...Things are going to get better..." - well they have. Congrats to all involved...
on 31 May 2012
"From The Beginning", originally released in mid-1967 by Decca, was a last ditch cash-in by ex-manager Don Arden & ex-label Decca. The L.P. combined previously unreleased tracks(some dating back to sessions with early keyboardist Jimmy Winston) with non-L.P. single A-sides. The album was a "spoiler" designed to compete with the group's first "Immediate Records" album, which was released a few weeks later. "Small Faces" wanted this album taken off the market, but, the bottom line was that the group still owed more recordings to Decca under contract, and even "From The Beginning" didn't fully satisfy the group's obligations, so Decca was given non-exclusive use of two "Immediate Records" songs("I Can't Make It" & "Just Passing"), which Decca then released as a single.
This 2012 2-CD edition is the most thorough edition to date. As a group whose recordings were (then, in the 1960's) licensed to(but not owned by) Decca, the group couldn't use the superior recording facilities of the big record company, and had to use independent studios. Many of the Small Faces' Decca recordings are tinny, grungy & distorted, even by 1960's standards, and don't really do justice to the group's fine performances.(there are exceptions, such as "All of Nothing", "Sha La La La Lee", "Hey Girl" & "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" & "I Can't Dance With You" , which are significantly better recorded).
Disc One gives you the 14-track original album, plus 5 non-L.P. singles tracks. It is reassuring that the album is being taken from the original mono master tape(a photo of the master tape box is shown in the superbly illustrated booklet). It should be noted, that with only 2 exceptions, that there are no true stereo mixes of the tracks from this album. As for the sound quality, you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. You can't boost the low frequency content on certain tracks which basically don't have any low frequency content. I did comparisons between the original 1980's "London" label West German CD, the 1996 expanded reissue and the new 2012 edition, listening through audiophile grade headphones(Sennheiser HD-650). For the 14 album tracks, the 1996 CD did provide audible improvements over the 1980's effort, mostly on the tracks which were better-recorded. The 2012 edition's improvements over the 1996 effort are more subtle. There is more clarity to the vocals, but there are no truly dramatic improvements. There is no reason to think that the 1996 CD didn't use the original master tape too. Disc one ends with the non-L.P. singles tracks "Almost Grown", "Understanding", "I Can't Dance With You" ,"I Can't Make It" & "Just Passing".
Disc Two opens with a significant find: a true stereo mix of "Runaway". I had always wondered whether the Decca recordings would have had better fidelity if released in stereo. The answer is "not really", but I am still happy to have this stereo mix. It has the vocals in the middle, and instruments on both left & right, somewhat contradicting Kenney Jones claim that the Decca recordings were all done on 2-track(perhaps the debut album was, though). Previously unreleased alternate (mono) mixes of "That Man" & "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" follow, and they are worthy additions to your "Small Faces" collection. There's been some controversy over the inclusion of three "electronically reprocessed" (I.E. Fake) stereo tracks here. Two of them("My Mind's Eye" & "All or Nothing") were created by putting most of the sound on the left channel, and only the extreme high frequencies on the right channel. I wouldn't advise playing those two tracks through headphones, because the right channel is tinny and shrill. The fake stereo "Understanding" creates a fake stereo effect through echo & reverb, and is more listenable. If you are offended by fake stereo, then just skip those 3 tracks. The set also includes the instrumental "Picaninny", presented in needless mono, though a true stereo version was released on the Castle label 2-CD set "Darlings of Wapping Wharf Lauderette".
The French E.P. alternate takes of "Hey Girl", "Take This Hurt off Me" and "Baby Don't You Do It" are included, and though the compiler still hasn't been able to find a full fidelity source, the release on this 2-CD set is significantly better sounding than on the 1996 CD.(I suspect that they have been de-clicked from the original French vinyl).
The set closes with a number of previously unreleased outtakes(most of them backing tracks) from sessions for the first "immediate" album. "Talk to You" "I Can't Make It" & "All Our Yesterdays are backing tracks, while "Show Me The Way" is a backing track attempt which breaks down due to musician error. You get an alternate take of the "Immediate" version of "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" featuring what is likely a rehearsal lead vocal and no double-tracking or background vocals. And the set ends with an alternate stereo mix of "Things Are Going to Get Better" which is barely/scarcely any different to the familiar released version. By the way, the backing track attempt at "I Can't Make It" presented here is a genuine alternate take, because the various vocal mono & stereo mixes of the song(released on various labels) all have their basis in the same take. This backing track attempt IS a different take.
Various labels have been credited for supplying sources for the recordings on this set, including Charly Records, for whom I compiled the 1995 4-CD box set "Small Faces-The Immediate Years". If Charly supplied the source for the mono mix of "Picaninny", then it is the dub from (very clean) vinyl which I did in 1994(the source was a U.S.A. 2-L.P. set "Small Faces-Big Music" on the "Compleat" label)
Does this 2-CD Deluxe edition of "From The Beginning" render all previous editions obsolete? Basically, YES. The 1996 CD included a BBC version of "Whatcha Gonna Do About It", but that is available elsewhere(on "The BBC Sessions") . The 1996 CD also included a "French E.P." alternate mix of "My Mind's Eye", but Universal Music's source was unlistenably poor. That early mix of "My Mind's Eye" was also heard on the RCA Victor U.S.A. single, and you can hear it with much better sound on the 4-CD "The Immediate Years" box set. So, basically, if you're looking for the "Small Faces-From The Beginning" album on CD, this is the edition to get. You can dispose of the previous CD editions.
From The Beginning was released in 1967 as a spoiler by Decca, the Small Faces' old label, to coincide with the release of their new album on the Immediate label entitled Small Faces (confusingly, the only album they made for Decca was also self-titled). The Small Faces did not especially appreciate the gesture, and made a point of specifically discouraging people from buying From The Beginning in the advertising for their new album.
From The Beginning contained all the hits they had had with Decca (What'cha Gonna Do About It, Sha-La-La-La-Lee, Hey Girl, All Or Nothing and My Mind's Eye), available on any number of compilations, alongside a number of previously unreleased recordings. These and are now the chief attraction of this CD re-issue.
The Small Faces had one line-up change while they were with Decca, when in October 1965 Jimmy Winston left and was replaced on keyboards by Ian McLagan. Although the Decca album Small Faces depicted Ian McLagan on the cover when it was released in May 1966, Jimmy Winston played on five or six of the tracks, recorded before his departure, and largely comprising their stage act of the time.
Unfortunately, it seems not to be known when these outtakes were recorded but the stage favourite Baby, Don't You Do It (a Marvin Gaye cover) has Jimmy Winston on lead vocals and guitar so some others may well have been recorded before October 1965, possibly the bizarre but interesting version of Runaway and the excellent takes on Don Covay's Take This Hurt Off Me and the Miracles' You've Really Got A Hold On Me. Both of these demonstrate what a fine band they were, and what a great vocalist Steve Marriott was. Indeed one wonders why space could not be found for some of these recordings on their first album. After Ian McLagan joined, they began to put Booker T-style instrumentals on their B-sides, so the cover of Plum Nellie here probably features him rather than Jimmy Winston on keyboards.
The album also included earlier versions of songs they re-recorded for Immediate, including My Way Of Giving, which they had handed over to Chris Farlowe for a single, and (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Her, which they had similarly given to Apostolic Intervention.
For the CD five bonus tracks have been added. Besides some unreleased alternative takes and a BBC session recording are two variant versions of singles which apparently appeared on French EPs: My Mind's Eye (which sounds slightly speeded up) and Hey Girl.
This album is a fascinating insight into the workings of the band during their Decca days with a number of gems not found elsewhere.
on 14 December 2010
like the previous review says this, in the original album format , was brought out by decca while the band were undergoing deals or were already with immediate records.This cd starts with an oscar winning performance!opera style wail from non other than Don arden (dad of sharon osbourne)then manager of the small faces,then the band kicks into runaway the del shannon hit.Nice little package this ,some lovely little gems of covers.BEWARE! if you ever see a cheap Rod stewart cd with most of the songs on it you've never heard by him just check because i bought one from woolworths(r.i.p.)and it had alot of early rod but most of this album on it.I think its a norwegian make not sure.
on 17 May 2012
Some 45 years after Small Faces' debut album appeared on Decca Records, Universal Music Corporation, has released the ultimate "Deluxe" edition of the album. Disc one contains the original 14 track album in glorious mono sound. The disc is supplemented by 5 mono non-LP single sides. The second disc contains alternate mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and the 5 tracks available in "electronically processed stereo" sound. 35 tracks total, two more than previously avalable on the "Decca Anthology 1965-67" making this an essential addition to fans of the diminutive quartet. The two surviving members of the band, Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan serve as co-executive producers of the release. The 24 page booklet includes liner notes by Mark Paytress and wonderful artwork & design by Phil Smee with gorgeous photos spread throughout. The sound, remastering by Nick Robbins, is absolutely incredible. Obviously much thought and love were put into the packaging. As part 1 of the 4 part complete revamping and reissuing of the Small Faces catalog, this collection raises the bar high. The set comes at a bargain price as well. The 4 reissues, 9 cds in all, arrived just today from the UK as they have yet to be released in the US. Thus far time has not allowed listening to the other 3 sets, so their reviews will have to wait at least one more day. Suffice to say this set was well worth the two month lag time between my pre-order and its arrival. I'm anxious to give the others a listen, but take it from me, this is certainly a "deluxe edition" and if the story of Small Faces is to finally be told in one cohesive tale it should certainly start "From The Beginning." Pick this set up, give it a listen and there is little doubt you will be longing for more. Luckily your shopping basket should be quite large enough to hold lots of "Small Faces." 5 stars without a doubt. Now to give the other 3 sets a listen!
on 10 December 2013
Despite a rather random running order - the chronology is all over the place - this is a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with the Small Faces (and you should be ashamed of yourself if you are unfamiliar). The early hits are there showing how they raved up the charts; but also some cover versions presumably intended for their first Decca LP that show them to be soulful interpreters; and some recordings of songs that re-recorded became part of their first Immediate LP. I actually prefer these versions - they're a bit more full on than the more acoustic/reflective later versions. The extras CD contains re-mixes etc and included is a groovy booklet with band ads, rare photos, newspaper articles from the era and new sleevenotes. The extras are good fun but arguably not essential. Having said that, as a fan I like them. And it all sounds much better than earlier pressings of the material, so a thumbs up for the remastering maestro.
on 24 August 2011
This is the Small Faces second album, and as such is actually a cash-in compilation following a change of label for the band.
Originally released in 1967 right after the Small Faces had left Decca and moved to Immediate, it gathers together assorted odds and ends of (then) unreleased Decca material.
That said, this 20-track collection does work perfectly well as an album in its own right. It sits comfortably as a follow-up to the band's 1966 self-titled Decca debut because only a couple of tracks from that album are repeated here - and as with the previous release, this album showcases the Small Faces in all their R&B tinged Mod glory.
A quick word for those concerned about sound quality. This first CD issue (London 8207662) sounds great. It has none of the noise reduction or digital tweakery found on subsequent re-issues.
And the rating? I'll give it a 4, simply because as an after-the-fact collection of material (being a mishmash of out-takes from the previous album sessions and singles A-sides and B-sides) it's not quite as focused as the previous Decca album. But if you enjoyed that one you'll certainly find quite a bit here of interest too.
on 10 May 2014
This was first issued by Decca, to compete with the Small Faces, first album on Immediate, and its a lot of what wouldn't have got used. Having said that its worth having to ensure I've everything the band recorded and again I like all the alternative mixes.
on 23 August 2015
I wish Amazon would take more care to describe items. This album is in mono and my hifi amp does not have a mono select button. If I had known I would not have bought this album.
on 8 January 2016
classic stuff from one of the best of british