First things first - anyone expecting this box set to give them straightforward reissues of the four Small Faces albums covering the 'Immediate' label period should look elsewhere (for details on those see the PS below). What we have here is an entirely different beast...
"Here Come The Nice" is a full-on vaults trawl - a 4CD Deluxe Presentation Box Set comprising of 41 Previously Unreleased tracks. In fact the full 75-song compliment has been newly remastered from original Mono and Stereo masters and newly mixed from studio multi-track session tapes for this release. The entire project was overseen by surviving band members IAN McLAGAN and KENNEY JONES - coordinated by Small Faces reissue series producer ROB CAIGER. Scrupulous tape sourcing and recovery of them has taken him over five years alone - with the remastering being handled by sound engineers NICK ROBBINS and ROB KEYLOCH (who were involved in all four of the much-praised 2012 Deluxe Editions - which I've also reviewed).
"Here Come The Nice" by SMALL FACES is on Charly/Immediate CHARLY 110 BX and although initially rumoured on the Net to be a US-only release due to licensing issues - it is now a 28 January 2014 Worldwide release (February 2014 in the USA). Housed in a 10" x 10" hard card box - it's a limited edition of 3000 with the certificate inside signed by Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan. Here's a detailed breakdown of the contents:
CD1 is "Small Faces Singles - Worldwide As Bs & EPs"
20 Tracks - 54:16 minutes. All were issued as 7" single versions/edits around the world and are in MONO. The liner notes also advise which were used on the Mono variants of the albums. None are unreleased but timing errors on old CD reissues have been corrected.
CD2 is "Small Faces In The Studio - Olympic, IBC & Trident Sessions - Part 1"
18 tracks - 52:17 minutes. All tracks are previously unreleased versions - 1 to 3 and 10 to 12 are MONO - all others are STEREO.
CD 3 is "Small Faces In The Studio - Olympic, IBC & Trident Sessions - Part 2"
16 tracks - 49:47 minutes. All tracks are previously unreleased versions - 4 to 10 are MONO - all others are STEREO.
CD 4 is "Alternate Small Faces - Out-Takes & In Concert"
21 Tracks - 63:31 minutes. Tracks 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 are Previously Unreleased. Tracks 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 are Live from the Newcastle City Hall on 18 November 1968 and are from the Pye Studio master tapes with pitch and speed corrections. Tracks 4, 6 and 12 to 15 are MONO - all others are STEREO.
The 72-page colour hardback book has a Foreword by Pete Townshend of The Who and liner notes by noted writer Mark Paytress with contributions from Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan, Rob Caiger, Tosh Flood, Barry Green, Gered Mankowitz, Ken Sharp and Jeff Slate. There are many other Rock celebrity names with quotes as well. As a coffee-table book it's properly gorgeous and the last set of pages in particular (51 through to 69) are beautifully done - featuring song-by-song annotation of the highest quality with new info and great colour photographs.
Speaking of photography - I have to admit to massive disappointment at the rather dull-looking 'Lyrics' book. Apart from some full-page Repros of rare single and album artwork - the rest of it is all sepia-tinted black and white photos with not a jot of that great Sixties colour in evidence anywhere (rather like the terrible booklet in The Rolling Stones "London Years" box set). I suspected licensing costs at first (too cost prohibitive) - but its worse. According to Gered Mankowitz (who photographs are long since associated with the band) - Immediate got loads of full colour negatives but Gered never got them back. He was left with only a handful of colour negs literally and boxes of black and white. Hence all that beautiful colour artwork, all that great Sixties look, all that cool promo stuff appears to have been lost or chucked. I say this because after the beautiful colour images in the hardback - the dark pages of "Lyrics" with all the images faded into the back of the text (making some of it almost unreadable) comes as a real visual let down. But - and I should stress this - they've done a classy job with what they've had to work with.
There's also a paper repro of the "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" Press Kit - a three-way fold-out 1967 rarity which pictures the album, the band and lists their personal details as well as some witty Immediate blurb and words.
There are 2 facsimile foldout posters in colour - a Live Gig Poster for Newcastle City Hall, June 8th with Gary Walker & The Rain, P.P. Arnold, The Nice & The Sect with John Peel as compere and a foldout advert poster for "Tin Soldier" single on Immediate IM062 (essentially the Picture Sleeve of the British issue).
There's 2 Gered Mankowitz Fine Art Prints - the boys holding the Itchycoo Park sign (in colour) and four children holding the same sign upside down (in black and white)
There are 5 x Immediate Postcards - photos on front and adverts for singles and albums on the other side
The signed certificate is presented on a repro of A Tape Box
The 4 x 7" singles are:
1. "Mystery" - Repro of a 1-Sided Emidisc Acetate (on Black Vinyl) delivered to Andrew Loog Oldham in 1967. It was intended to be a single but withdrawn. A handful of the acetates were made.
2. "Album Sampler" - Repro of Immediate AS 1 album-sampler for "Small Faces" LP in a Immediate Label Bag on Red Vinyl (this was not on the DELUXE EDITION of "Small Faces"). It has excerpts from 5 tracks with British DJ Tommy Valance introducing in between tracks. The original is very rare.
3. Itchycoo Park EP - repro of a rare 1967 French 4-track Immediate Records Extended Play 45 on Blue Vinyl - tracks are Itchycoo Park/I'm Only Dreaming/Green Circles/Eddie's Dreaming
4. Here Come The Nice EP - repro of a rare 1967 French EP on Immediate Records Extended Play 45 on White Vinyl. Tracks are Here Come The Nice/Became Like You/Talk To You/Get Yourself Together
Finally there's a full-sized INFO PAGE on the rear of the box but of course like so many of these US issues it falls off the moment you remove the shrink-wrap which is a pain.
CD 1 is all MONO and features UK and worldwide single releases - and right from the "Here Come The Nice" opener - you can hear the quality. Very clean and full of presence. "Talk To You" is just stunning as are the rarely heard single edits of "Mad John" and "The Journey" (coupled as a single in Australia and the USA). The sheer mono whack of "Rollin' Over" still sends chills up my spine ("where at man!" indeed!).
CD 2, 3 and 4 is where the fun begins. Most tracks on CD2 are stop-start studio run-throughs with cool Londoner wide-boy dialogue in between takes - "I've broken a string man!", "This will be Take 24", "Go up an octave Ronnie", "bit faster Ken" or "we can do better than that!" - and so on. "Wit Art Yer" turns out to be Take 1 of "I Can't Make It" (full of rocking effects guitar and swirling keyboards) which in turn leads into a superb Alternate Stereo take of the song proper. The slang-named "Doolally" has Marriott shouting "Hey" throughout its multiple stops and starts and there's some amazing heavy lead guitar on Take 9 of "Call It Something Nice".
A string of great alternates open Disc 3 while Take 1 of "That Feeling Of Spring" mainlines you right back to the Summer of 1967 with all its echo and giggling. The brass instrumental "All Our Yesterdays" sounds like a Magical Mystery Tour outtake while the Alternate of "Talk To You" in rocking Stereo is so Sixties I can smell the Joss sticks. "Mind The Doors Please" is essentially a 5-minutes drum solo superfluous to anyone's requirements - but far better is a trio of tracks that feel like you're eavesdropping on an acoustic unplugged Small Faces session - "Things Are Going To Get Better", "Mad John" and "Fred". I liked these a lot - intimate and stripped down.
Another belter and compilation fave of mine is the rocking instrumental "Collibosher" - which was on both "The Autumn Stone" double album and opened Side 2 of the "In Memoriam" LP. Here we get Take 4 and fabarooney it is too. Another shocker is the genuine tenderness in Take 2 of "Jenny's Song" where Marriott sounds like he's Terry Reid doing the gorgeous "May Fly" ballad from 1969. Disc 4 opens with a trio of complete initial stereo takes which are only slightly different brill nonetheless and even more impressive is the rarely heard Mono Northern Soul smack of "(If You Think You're) Groovy" track by The Lot which is P.P. Arnold with The Small Faces. But for me the highlight of the entire set is proper remaster quality given to "Me You And Us Too" which is "Wham Bam Thank You Mam" under another name with different lyrics. It absolutely rocks and encapsulates what I loved about the band's sound at that time (I think it's been on previous CD reissues of dubious origins but never sounding this good). The live stuff is drenched in panting screaming girls and raucous to say the least - but more than anything you get the sheer sonic assault of the band and what a ludicrously exciting live act they were. Impressive trouser snakes boys...
It's far too expensive for what's on offer and following on from the opening paragraph it has to be said out loud that this is `fan' stuff - the casual listener may find it all a bit wearing. I thought CD2 was the weakest of the unreleased stuff (bit cheeky called a 36-second segment a track) but CD3 and 4 more than make up for it.
Worth the wait - I think so yes. This is the Small Faces - and for a band so notoriously mishandled down through the decades there's a real sense of people making sure this reissue comes up to muster. And as I drool over the hardback book and listen to that cool Take 1 of "Itchycoo Park" in Stereo once more - I wonder will we ever see their like again. It may cost - but at least this box set remembers them with style and class.
It really was all too beautiful folks.
The four albums from the period are available as follows - "Small Faces" (Immediate Label) and "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" are already issued as 2CD DELUXE EDITIONS (see my 2012 reviews) and there is very little duplication with the content of this box. Third is the American LP "There Are But Four Small Faces" which can be sequenced from the 2 DELUXE EDITIONS and the 4th is the sought-after double album "Autumn Stone" which will see a DELUXE EDITION of its own in September 2014.
on 27 January 2014
The main issue people seem to have with this release is the price - which for a 4 CD set with 4 x 7" singles truthfully is overpriced but the reasons for & against seem to be debated well elsewhere. Me, I just like the music & a nicely packaged product so if I can find the funds & its a band I like - I pay what it costs - but I accept that its a small fortune to pay in tough times
The actual set is one of the best presented sets I have seen. The hardback book holding the CD's lifts to reveal replica posters, which lift to reveal replica marketing photos & the soft back book of lyrics & pics, which lifts to reveal the signed certificate & 4 singles, which lifts to reveal more postcard sized pictures. All housed in cut away protective foam packaging. I like the way it presents & on first entering is like a SF treasure trove. The various versions of music sound really interesting & while I can see its more suited to a big fan of the Small Faces really in truth who else would buy this? - there are multiple releases targeted at the passing traffic. No this is a bit more in depth & interesting - reminds me a bit in places of the seminal Pet Sounds Sessions box (though this has way more thought gone into it & seems to have been produced with a fan's eye view). I am not a musicologist or forensic SF fan who can tell you the difference between all the versions on this but to my eyes & ears this is a really nice thing to have & something to enjoy
on 5 February 2014
First of all we'll deal with the elephant in the room! Is this too expensive? Absolutely it is, especially for under 4 hours of music in total and only really about 2 discs of unreleased material. However it is a beautifully produced boxset that's clearly a labour of love and one finally worthy of such an underrated powerhouse of a band. In my opinion it is the best thing to be released under the Small Faces name since the band broke up! It really is that good.
Now, let's deal with what this isn't. It is not a one stop shop for the Immediate catalogue. For that John H McCarthy's review of the previous releases is very helpful. If you are new to the Small Faces, or don't have all 2 of their Immediate LP's plus the Autumn Stone compilation please start there. The Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Laundrette is an excellent one stop shop for the Immediate catalogue, minus only the live material from Newcastle on Autumn Stone.
Here Comes The Nice first of all tidies up the remaining singles and non album tracks that haven't so far been released during this reissue campaign. Single mixes of Afterglow of Your Love, Mad John and The Journey are present as are the stereo mixes of I Feel Much Better and I'm Only Dreaming which were inexplicably left off the 2012 Deluxe Edition of 'Small Faces'. Also the live tracks from the Autumn Stone collection are included, without the overdubbed extra crowd noise also pitch and speed corrected. They do sound better than any previous release of these tracks but are from the same source so don't expect a massive revelation. Just to touch on the mastering quality for moment. Thankfully there has been no over abuse of compression and noise reduction and the EQ is very tasteful and can be cranked on a decent hi-fi.
The real meat of the box is on discs 2 and 3. This presents the culmination of all the reissue teams hunting down of the original session tapes from Olympic, IBC and Trident, some actually recovered from a skip outside of the Olympic studios. The full story is told in very interesting and great detail by the sets compiler Rob Caiger.
Now a previous review states there is nothing 'ground breaking' here? Not sure how without hearing the contents you can make that assumption but anyway! What constitutes 'groundbreaking'? Is it Elvis or The Beatles on Ed Sullivan 'groundbreaking' or Hendrix at Monterey 'groundbreaking'? Perhaps not but what would constitute 'ground breaking' for a lifelong Small Faces fan who has all the previous released material? Maybe the opportunity to drop into one of their recording sessions to hear how some of these classics were created? To hear the Small Faces in such clarity straight from the session masters is utterly surreal at times. It's not just all studio chat and hearing takes breakdown, although there is that too. What it is ..... is to hear these classics in a detail and clarity that the original production mono and stereo mixes could never achieve..... Rob Keyloch has done a fantastic job with the remixes. The stripped down mixes of things like Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass and Jenny Song are really a revelation, as is a surprise vocal only mix of Wham Bam Thank You Mam. Because of the need to 'bounce down' while recording on four or eight track in the sixties, to create more tracks for further overdubs and vocals, you always incurred a generation loss of sound quality. By recovering the multitracks all these individual elements can now be remixed without the need to incur the loss in sound quality. So for the first time you can hear Steve's vocal's front and centre with plenty of air and space, same goes for all the individual instrumentation.
Unfortunately I haven't really got round to listening to the vinyl yet, after 3 days I'm still digesting what is on the 4 discs. To touch on the book briefly it really is a beautiful coffee table style volume with excellent notes on the project as mentioned earlier as well as a great history of the band from their Pre-Decca days to their breakup by Mark Paytress. The real joy of the book apart from the photos, is the individual track annotations that give recording dates and extremely insightful comments.
In Summary, the compilers of the set have really produced something here that will stand as a lasting testament to this great band and although my wallet doesn't thank them I am delighted with this set as you can probably guess. Any Small Faces fans who has ever enjoyed the Beach Boys SMiLE or Pet Sounds Sessions will love this. To hear a new, exciting and fresh presentation of tracks I have been familiar with for over 20 years has been an utterly joyful and dare I say "groundbreaking' experience for this Small Faces fan.
on 9 April 2014
This new box set pretty much contains every version of every song recorded by the Small Faces during their Intermediate years i.e. in their best period. It is expensive but the music and the extras make it well worth it as the Small Faces are among the very greatest and most influential of British bands.
on 13 February 2014
The current box set looks amazing but I wonder about all the add-ons which no doubt boost the price substantially. For those who love this sort of stuff it all looks fantastic but in the longer term I wonder if there any chance that Universal might issue a basic 4 CD set of just the music. Perhaps if we all ask nicely!
(Have bought all the deluxe issues and going back to pre-Immediate days, I have four CD versions of 'Small Faces' and the original Decca LP
on 11 February 2014
It goes without saying that such a comprehensive and relatively expensive release caters specifically to fans of the group. There is, I believe, little doubt that the number of fans of the group is significantly larger than the limited 3000 copies this classy boxset is released in.
The majority of people will probably be most interested in the music itself and about this, it can in brief be said , "Great - and outstanding sound" . There has been a huge research work done in order to find the best sources of all these tracks, which in many cases are the original multi-track tapes. It is also clear that The Small Faces recorded their music under unusually good conditions; for their time. It's amazing how clean and clear it all sounds. Everything is remastered and many songs have been remixed from the master tapes, which means that you notice details that were previously to various degrees hidden in the mixes.
What's on the four CDs then? CD 1 is the most easy go go to as it contains the group's singles A's and B's released during 1967-69. Not many groups can cope with such a variety of great songs, and this also applies to B-sides , which in many cases might as well have been A-sides. Particularly interesting is "Mad John" which is without Stan Unwin 's narrative and which has a different fadeout .
CD2 and CD 3 give a fine insight into the group working with their music. Some of the cuts are short fragments while others are full versions of the songs in new mixes, often without fade outs and therefore often longer than the known versions. Although you meet new and previously unheard of titles in the track list you should be aware that these are titles in most cases cover the early stages of well-known songs . There are very fine new and finished mixes of "I Can't Make It ," "Call it Something Nice ," "Wide Eyed Girl on the Wall", " Red Balloon", "Wham Bam Thank You Mam" , "Just Passing" ( This Feeling of Spring ), "Talk To You", "Collibosher", " Donkey Rides , A Penny , A Glass" , "Autumn Stone" ( Jenny 's Song ) and several others. Also interesting to hear a version of "Green Circles" with Steve Marriott as lead singer .
On CD 4 there are also a lot of great and interesting stuff and this CD is like CD 1 very listenable . These alternative versions are in most cases on par with the known ones, and in some cases maybe even better. Here I will highlight "Me You and Us Two" , a song previously erroneously released as "Wham Bam Thank You Mam" . The guitar riff is indeed the same but it has completely different lyrics, and it features Nicky Hopkins on piano. Interesting also to hear the single version of "Afterglow" at the correct pace.
The live numbers have all been previously released , but these are cleaner mixes and correct speed pitches.
In addition to the four CDs the box includes a very informative book, which include the exciting story of the extensive research of locating all the best sources for the music.
There is also a reprint of two rare French EPs and two singles. One is a promtion single that was made for the first Immediate album , while the other include an acetate called "Mystery" , which is an early version of "Something I want to tell you" . Moreover there are reprinting of various old fan-articles and a couple of posters. And then there are personally handwritten signings by Kenney Jones and Ian Maclagan .
I am in no way in regret this investment and I can highly recommend it. The first cd with the singles has been released separately, so if you find it too costly with a whole box , you can instead chose "Greatest Hits , The Immediate Years 1967 - 1969"
This review was revised on 2-21-2014......
In advance of the (then) imminent release of the 2014 deluxe SMALL FACES box set (now out-of-print, at least for now), I thought that I'd offer a guide on how to obtain a REAL Ultimate SMALL FACES Collection with what I considered the best previous reissues, and at the end compared it to the value of the 'HERE COMES THE NICE: The Immediate Years 1967-1969' boxed set. I've changed my recommendations on their Decca material and have added further info on recent Immediate material releases. But first a little background......
There is probably no other rock group that has so many reissues to their name than THE SMALL FACES. This is due to the fact that the surviving members of the group, Ian McLagen and Kenny Jones, and the heirs of the late Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane didn't even begin to receive royalties from their work until well in to this century! Most of their financial problems were due to their notorious ex-managers, Don Arden (father to Sharon, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?) and Andrew Loog Oldham, who literally bankrupted them. Oldham's Immediate Records label was actually funded by what should of been their royalties. It also doesn't help that even now the rights to their music is split in half, Universal owns their early Decca material and Charly owns the Immediate Records catalog, but at least now the surviving band members have a say in their releases. That certainly wasn't the case before the settlement, as exemplified but the myriad of re-re-re-re-reissues of their core catalog and the dozens of compilations, some done with care and others shoddy and haphazard. Here's a guide to what I think are the very best, and put together collects almost all of their commercially released output on Decca and Immediate......
on DECCA: SMALL FACES Deluxe Edition (Decca) and FROM THE BEGINNING Deluxe Edition
(My previous recommendations were for the 2006 'Small Faces: 40th Anniversary Edition,' 2003's 'From The Beginning' reissue and Disc One of the 2008 'Ultimate Collection' 2CD set)
After reading so many positive reviews about these sets and hearing from other fans who took issue with my previous recommendations I gave in and purchased both sets. While not the "heavens opened up" revelation that many seemed to experience, I do feel that the material sounds more "opened up" with much better clarity, for better and worse, depending on the performance. The booklets are also better laid out with more photos and larger reproductions of some of the ephemera in the older edition. My only quibbles are, I thought the essay in the '40th Anniversary' was more informative with a better detailed history, and I wish the discs were replicas of the old Decca label like on the '40th Anniversary' disc rather than photos under the clear trays......
The 23 Track '40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION' of their first album on Decca comes in a nice digipak and the remastered sound is still miles ahead of what came before. The bonus tracks include B-Sides, non-album singles and alternate versions released only on French EPs. The 19 track single disc 'FROM THE BEGINNING' of their "2nd album," released by Decca to cash in when they signed with Immediate, includes more French EP versions and a BBC Session track. The band was not happy at the time that Decca was trying to "steal their thunder" by releasing the (originally) 14 track LP, in fact, "My Mind's Eye" was originally recorded during their first Immediate session but was given to Decca to fulfill their contract. 'ULTIMATE COLLECTION' is a two disc set and only the second SMALL FACES collection to feature both their Decca and Immediate sides (see 'THE AUTUMN STONE' below). Having all the Decca material on the two Deluxe Editions now makes this redundant......
on IMMEDIATE: for those on a budget: THE DARLINGS OF WAPPING WHARF LAUNDERETTE
If you can afford them: SMALL FACES Deluxe Edition (Immediate),OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE (Charly) and THE AUTUMN STONE
(My previous recommendations were for the 2008 'Small Faces: 35th Anniversary Edition' and 1999's 'The Darlings Of Wapping Wharf Launderette,' both 2CD sets on Sanctuary)
1999's 'THE DARLINGS OF WAPPING WHARF LAUNDERETTE' is named after the official fan club's moniker and was the first Immediate material compilation officially approved by the band, and the first to use the original tapes. It contains their first hit single for Immediate, "Here Comes The Nice" (#12 UK), "The Universal" (#16 UK), "Afterglow (Of Your Love)" (#36 UK), all of the first Immediate album and 'OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE,' and the rarities from 'THE AUTUMN STONE.' It also contains rare and alternate versions including P.P. Arnold's cover of "(If You Think You're) Groovy" with the boys as her backing group. There's a 2008 bargain set, 'IMMEDIATE ALBUM COLLECTION,' with straight reissues of the Immediate releases with no bonus or mono tracks. Even though it's starting to get a little pricey, 'WAPPING WHARF' gets the nod......
There are two 2013 versions of 'SMALL FACES (1st Immediate Album),' the recent above linked UK 'Deluxe Edition' on Universal (UK) and a US digibook on Charly, both have the exact same masters. Due to legal mumbo-jumbo Universal controls the catalog for the UK, & Europe and Charly fro the US and Canada. I actually rather the 48 Track 2002 Castle/Sanctuary 'SMALL FACES: 35th ANNIVERSARY EDITION' jewel case version. It comes in a nice slipcase, has three more tracks, and a better booklet which you can reverse if you are in the mood for the 'THERE ARE BUT FOUR SMALL FACES' U.S. cover art. It also has tracks not on the 2013 upgrades. Read Mark Barry's excellent review for the complete lowdown......
Ever since the initial LP release in the now famous round album cover, 'OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE' has been a popular collectable. There have been many many re-releases of this seminal quirky whimsical psychedelic concoction, but there are two essential versions. In 2006 Sanctuary/Castle released it in a metal tin bringing the iconic cover art to life. There were three discs included, one mono, one stereo, and a third containing an hour long BBC Documentary. The 2013 Charly version (linked above) also has three discs, Disc One contains the stereo mix, Disc Three contains the mono mix, and Disc Two features 13 rare tracks from the recording sessions. It comes in a round cardboard "tin" that while nice it doesn't have that certain "cachet." Both come with inserts mimicking the original round LP cover, and the Charly release has coasters with all the album art on each side. They both sound great, so it's a toss-up to personal preference. Being the fan that I am, I own both! There is also a 2013 3CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Universal in a multi-fold digipak with the exact masters as the Charly. The only thing I can't understand is why the producers of the recent reissues didn't think of adding a DVD with the footage of them performing Side Two of 'OGDENS' on the British TV show "Colour Me Pop?" All the extraneous material on both 3CD sets could fit on 2CDs easy. That would have made it a REAL ultimate version (at least you can see this footage on the essential ALL OR NOTHING 1965-1968 DVD)......
'THE AUTUMN STONE,' a hodgepodge "best of" features their hits from both labels and was originally released as a 2LP set. Unfortunately for collectors three live cuts, "Whacha Gonna Do About It," "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "If I Were A Carpenter," are not on any of the above releases. There is a rumored 'Deluxe Edition' in the works for late 2014.......
Lastly, if you want to go all the way, you'll want the 'BBC SESSIONS,' 15 songs and 5 short interviews recorded live on "Auntie Beeb" in excellent sound quality for their age......
The limited edition (of 3000) 'HERE COMES THE NICE: The Immediate Years 1967-1969' box set is out-of-print, currently over $250.00US on Amazon US, and sure to reach stratospheric prices. It only contained four CDs with 75 tracks total, and as per the title, nothing from their years at Decca. CD#1 consists of their worldwide single and EP tracks, most if not all of which can be found on the above releases. CD#2 & #3 contain unreleased material, but only work tapes and alternate versions, nothing "ground-breaking." CD#4 contains rare and unreleased tracks, but again most of the rare tracks are on previous releases. Two vinyl 7" singles, an EP and an acetate also contain previously released tracks, bar one. There's a 72-page hardcover that contains a track-by-track illustrated guide, rare and unpublished photos, sleeve notes by Mark Paytress and written contributions from Robert Plant, Paul Weller, David Bowie, Nick Mason and others. There is also a booklet will all their lyrics. The replica memorabilia includes two posters, the press kit for 'OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE,' five postcards, and two art prints from the "Itchycoo Park" photo sessions......
The first CD with the mono single tracks has already been released separately as Greatest Hits-Immediate Years. Knowing Charly/Snapper/Madfish, I'm sure the material on the other three discs will eventually find it's way to market. Those patient and only in it for the music will surely soon get to own it, I wager at a much fairer price......
on 3 March 2014
Firstly, I must say that £160ish for 4 CDs (non running to maximum length) and 4 7" vinyl 45s is very overpriced, regardless of how it is presented. The nearest to this package I can remember was the SMILE box set, which came in at just under £100 (5 CDs, 2 x 7" 45s, plus vinyl version of the album).
However, as a fan of The Small Faces, and a bit of a 60's anorak, I duly bought the box. As I had hoped, the music is fantastic. The first disc contains mono versions of Immediate tracks released as singles round the world. Good sound quality, but not a significant improvement on the 'Darlings..' compilation from a few years ago. However, the rest of the discs demonstrate the benefits of sourcing the multitrack master tapes (where possible), as the sound quality across discs 2-4 is absolutely staggering. These session tapes give one the chance to hear just what a tight and inventive band the Small Faces were. Yes, hearing a single track evolve over a few takes is not for the casual listener, but for anyone with anorak-like interest in 60's music it is brilliant to hear the band's musicianship in such clarity, together with studio chat, count-ins, etc. The hard back book that houses the CDs is well put together with great information about the band's treatment by management (and the treatment of their tapes beyond this time); and leaves one wondering about the material that is now lost forever (?). However, in my opinion the book and CDs are all that was really needed in the box set - the rest is just padding (and expensive padding at that). There are plenty of other comments on the internet regarding why UK fans of a UK band end up paying a premium to obtain this compared to the rest of the world; and it is this licensing issue that ultimately leaves a bad sound in the ears (and, bizarrely, perpetuates the poor treatment of the music of this great band in making it available to the fans who want to hear it). Ultimately, the package is overpriced for anyone who simply likes the Small Faces - you have to be interested in them as a band to get close to value for money....
on 14 February 2014
The Small Faces "Here Come The Nice" boxed set is a music + memorabilia box, not unlike The Beach Boys' "The Smile Sessions" box, but perhaps with even more emphasis on memorabilia. As such, the U.S.A. selling price was within reason, but the territorial restrictions & dealer exclusives in the UK caused the Uk selling price to be appallingly high.
Just so nobody accuses me of being unreasonably biased, I should note that some people on the internet claim that I have "an ax to grind" against compiler Rob Caiger. I've never met the man, but I had a few unpleasant e-mail encounters with him some years ago. I compiled several "Immediate Years" boxed sets for Charly Records in the 1990's, and while I'm certainly disappointed that I wasn't selected to compile "Immediate" recordings in the 21st century, I'm not especially embittered. With those things out of the way, I'll now review the new boxed set.
You've already seen the complete listing of all of the memorabilia items enclosed in the boxed set, so there's no need to list them all. I'll note that the printing and manufacturing quality of all the books and printed items is excellent, and that the hardback/hardcover book is superb, that it was initially intended (during the development of this project) that a sessionography would be included....but it isn't included. The book does tell the story of how Charly Records came to obtain nearly 100 reels of Olympic Studios multitrack tapes related to "Immediate Records" artists, even if it doesn't tell the story correctly. But that's trivia to most fans.
Disc One features the Small Faces' "Immediate Records" singles A's and B's, and (with the exception of "I'm Only Dreaming") delivers them with unprecidented, superb quality.
The fun(for completists) begins on Disc Two(and continues on Disc Three). You get loads of session excerpts, studio dialogue and alternate takes, mostly newly mixed from original multitrack tapes. Despite presenting numerous songs under working titles, be advised that this group only released four albums while together(and one of those was either unauthorized or a contractual obligation, depending upon your viewpoint), so there were never many unreleased songs, and nearly all of them were issued shortly after the group's disbandment on the 2-L.P. set "The Autumn Stone". "Mind The Doors, Please", the one bonafide unreleased "song" included here is essentially a drum solo, with bass guitar providing sound effects. Still, you get a very thorough look into the development of the songs from the group's first "immediate" album, and the songs which debuted on "The Autumn Stone". Unfortunately, it would seem that(with the exception of one song) that the multitracks for "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" no longer exist. Rob Caiger(and his engineer) have also taken the opportunity to freshly remix songs which had already been mixed down in the 1990's by Germany's "Repertoire" label, so that Caiger could present mixes approved by Kenney Jones & Ian McLagan. These mixes are not radically different to the Repertoire mixes, though some of the new mixes run longer(I.E. to their full unfaded endings)
Disc Four provides a selection of Sound quality upgrades, rarities and further unreleased takes. It contains the stereo mixes of "Itchycoo Park", "Here Comes The Nice", "I Feel Much Better" & "I'm Only Dreaming"(as on the U.S.A. album "There Are But Four Small Faces") that are each a phenomenal upgrade in sound quality over any previous release. The Five "Live at Newcastle City Hall" tracks are presented from a newly discovered, speed-corrected source that has the screaming audience mixed down lower. The Italian language version of "Green Circles" appears in a previously unreleased(albeit inferior) mix, with Kenney Jones' drums substantially mixed down. The single edit of "Afterglow(Of Your Love)" intentionally sped up for the single, appears here at its correct speed, and a number of rarities & alternate mixes(though not all of them) that Rob Caiger overlooked when compiling the expanded editions of the group's two "Immediate" albums, have found a home in this new boxed set. Also, "Me, You & Us Too"(an early version of "Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am" with different lyrics) appears with substantially better sound versus the shrill sounding "Repertoire" label release. This rarity exists only in mono sound. Following the group's rejection of this take, the group themselves erased and re-used the multitrack session tape.
Of the four vinyl singles included, only one of them features any unreleased material. That single is the replica of the acetate for "Mystery"(an early version of "Something I Want to Tell You"). The other vinyl singles include one which has a promotional advertisement, including excerpts from the group's first Immediate album(this promotional "Sampler" has appeared on CD as part of Castle Communications' 2002 2-CD set of "Small Faces" first "Immediate" album. The remaining 2 vinyl records are replicas of two France E.P.'s which have nothing rare to offer, excepting a very slightly sped up mix of "Here Come The Nice'. The vinyl records are fairly pointless, and while the surfaces are quiet, they are pressed on vinyl that is simply too thin. Like many people, I got a set in which the records were warped(3 of the 4 singles in my set were warped, for the "Sampler" single, so severely warped that the steadiness of the music's pitch was affected. I'm astonished that my turntable was able to successfully play it.)
But I'm appalled by the marketing games and contrived product shortages surrounding this boxed set. First it was going to be released in May 2013, then September 2013, then December 2013, then January 27,2014....then a Uk release January 27,2014 and U.S.A. release February 4,2014......then amazon.com sent ominous and worrisome e-mails to customers saying (in effect) "We'll let you know when there is a release date"......then the February 4th release date was back "on", but the extremely stressful ordeal for customers continued until the very moment that the boxed set arrived at our doors.
There are many other "Immediate" artists that Rob Caiger would like to compile, but if he continues to take two and a half years per project(from announcement to finished, released product), then none of us original 1960's fans will live long enough to hear the completion of Caiger's work. Please Mr.Caiger, from now on, focus solely on the music(as opposed to elaborate memorabilia boxes), and deliver reasonably priced CD products, manufactured in adequate quantities, on a reasonable schedule, with a minimum of marketing games, contractual hassles, release postponements and contrived product shortages. The decision to not provide adequate quantities of this boxed set means that more people will obtain this music from illegal downloads than by purchasing this (somewhat) overblown, scarce boxed set. That does no favors for Charly Records, Snapper Music or the two surviving "Small Faces" musicians.
on 26 August 2016
Very much a trip down nostalgia way. However what a band, especially on live performance. For those who are old enough to remember Ready Steady Go this was the start of the weekend on Friday night. They were definitely an important part of that era. Well, a very neat package and as already commented upon, very expensive for its content! However would have bought this first time round but, for reasons did not, so happy to take advantage of this when the opportunity came again. A considered purchase and something to wow the inheritor, hopefully in the distant future.