on 6 June 2012
Small Faces' first album for the "Immediate" label l(which I consider to be the group's 3rd album, though the group disavows Decca's "From The Beginning", and considers the first "immediate" album to be the group's second album) is my favorite "Small Faces" album.
This new 2-CD Deluxe Edition has plenty of good material, but it could have been better with a bit more attention to detail. Disc One opens with the mono mix of the album. To me, the stereo version of the album is, despite its very wide separation, the best way to hear the album. But the mono mix is a collectors curio. When the mono mix of the album appeared on the Castle label's 2002 2-CD expanded edition, it was obvious that some of the tracks had been dubbed from vinyl, so there has been speculation on whether the mono mix, as it appears on this 2012 edition, has also been dubbed from vinyl. I listened closely through headphones, and didn't detect any obvious vinyl noise, but I will say this: the compiler of the 2012 Deluxe Edition has used two sources of very different quality; a very clean high quality source for the "Side 2" songs, and a markedly more distorted source for the "Side 1" songs. You'll note that some tracks in the mono mix seem to run slightly faster than their stereo counterparts. I have no doubt that that is the way the mono mix was.(There were also instances in the catalogues of The Beatles & The Bee Gees where mono mixes ran faster than their stereo counterparts). Disc One adds 5 mono singles mixes("Here Comes The Nice", "Itchycoo Park", "I'm Only Dreaming", "Tin Soldier" & "I Feel Much Better") & three previously unreleased alternate mixes["(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me", "Eddie's Dreaming" & "Green Circles"] As for the 5 mono singles mixes, I am convinced that "I'm Only Dreaming"(likely supplied by Charly Records, who are credited in this 2-CD set's liner notes as a source for "masters") is a dub from vinyl, specifically the dub from vinyl that I did in 1994 when I compiled the 1995 4-CD box set "Small Faces-The Immediate Years". You'll note a subtle skip during the piano introduction at the 0:06 point. This is where my Charly Records engineer(ex-Decca engineer Peter Rynston) had to edit out a very loud vinyl "pop" which could not be concealed by noise reduction, hence the mild skip.
Disc Two opens with the stereo mix of the album. In common with a number of other 1960's rock group catalogues, even groups as diverse as "Jefferson Airplane" & "The Moody Blues", over the years, through various CD editions, engineers had brightened the sound in pursuit of more clarity, and a more "Hifi" sound, and the recordings had gone further and further away from how the artists intended the recordings to sound. The most recent remasters by all of these groups restore the sound intended by the artists; a sound that is somewhat darker than what we had grown accustomed to. My ears were accustomed to the "Repertoire" label expanded edition of this album, with its fantastic clarity, which has unique bonus tracks which have yet to reappear in Universal Music's "Small Faces" reissue programme. Certainly, the stereo mix of the album sounds good in this new 2-CD set, and the mastering has been approved by the two surviving "Small Faces" members.
Stereo mixes of "Just Passing","Itchycoo Park", Here Come The Nice" & "Don't Burst My Bubble" follow, and they sound fine, BUT, the omission of the stereo mixes of "I'm Only Dreaming" & "I Feel Much Better" simply glares at you. It is an unacceptable oversight. I should note that the stereo "I'm Only Dreaming" features a different vocal performance to the mono mix.
Disc two of this set adds an alternate mix of "Things Are Going to Get Better"(the mix which debuted on the Repertoire label 2-CD set "Small Faces-The Definitive Anthology"). Repertoire's stereo remix of "I Can't Make It" follows(and this may be the reason why the original 1960's stereo mix of the song was considered redundant for this set). The previously unreleased "Green Circles"(alternate take 2) follows, then the stereo mix of "Tin Soldier", and the set ends with the backing track for P.P. Arnold's version of "(If You Think You're) Groovy", on which "Small Faces" played( despite rumours that "Small Faces" recorded a version of the song, no tape has been found).
There are other potential bonus tracks that were overlooked, that certainly would have been relevant to this deluxe edition, including the Italian Language version of "Green Circles" & the slower "U.S.A. Mix" of "Green Circles". When I included the "U.S.A. Mix" on the 4-CD box "The Immediate Years", it was one of six songs in that box that I had to obtain from vinyl, though in the 18 years since then, Charly Records did obtain a tape source for that "U.S.A. mix", and I have a DAT dub from it in my collection.
The recent deal between Charly Records(owner of the non-Uk rights to the "Immediate Records" catalogue) & Universal Music(owner of the UK-only rights to the "Immediate Records" catalogue) was going to be(and still could be) a good thing for Charly and for the fans who collected "Immediate" recordings. Universal got access to Charly's 98 reels of Olympic Studios multitrack tapes by "Immediate" artists(though there's only a small quantity of "Small Faces" recordings in those tapes), and Charly(who had held the tapes since 2001) was spared the cost of mixing down those tapes. Universal & its compilers will do the remixing and compiling, and Charly gets to release the resulting expanded remasters, in territories where Charly has the rights. This deal between Charly & Universal permanently cut me out of the picture as a compiler of "Immediate" recordings. I'm not bitter, and wouldn't have cared if Universal Music's compiler (Rob Caiger) had done a fabulous job of expanding this album, but I'll be matter of fact: I could have done better.
Yes, buy this 2-CD set, but also hold onto the "Small Faces" Repertoire CD's and the Charly 4-CD "The Immediate Years" box.