Small Faces was a British psychedelic band that formed in East London, United Kingdom in 1965. They are considered an influential mod group in the sixties, and was extremely popular in the UK.
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was Small Faces third record, and first concept album released on the 24th of May, 1968. The album was wildly popular in the UK, and reached the number 1 position on the music charts, where it stayed for six weeks.
When first listening to the record, I wasn’t overly impressed. This is unfortunate, but I feel the reason is that the record has a lot of cultural meaning in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t really get the focus of what the record was about.
Being a concept album, I began my journey listening to it without any point of reference, and it fell short for me because of it. Also, musically, it didn’t seem very psychedelic to me, as I was comparing it to what I was listening to in the States.
By the third or fourth listen, and with a little background research, I was hooked.
The reason it probably never resonated that well in the States as it did in Britain, is because of the purely British imagery and personalities involved. However, after a couple of listens it was apparent that it was a great album musically.
The first song on the record, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, is an instrumental piece that starts out with a cool jazzy feel and a funky bass line that I love. It sets the musical tone of the record, which at first, does not seem very psychedelic.
The next song, Afterglow (Of Your Love), is a great, and very recognisable among fans who know the work of Small Faces. It was actually the last single by the group to make the British charts, reaching number 36.
Another song on the record, Lazy Sunday, was a hit for the band in 1968 that reached number two on the charts. It was a song that the band did not want released, and it features frontman Steve Marriott singing in a strong Cockney accent about the feuds that he had with his neighbors. It took awhile for me to appreciate the song, but after a few listens, it became one of my favorites on the record.
The remaining six songs on the record comprise the concept part of the album, and is another part of the record that I found unappealing before I did a bit of research.
The main character of the second part of the record is a fairy tale about Happiness Stan, and the way in which it was narrated gave me a bit of a pause to do some more reading.
The narration was by a British comedian named Stanley Unwin, and he concocted a mangles form of English that was known as Unwinese. It takes some serious intense listening to pick up what he is saying on the album.
The fairy tale follows Stan as he is searching for the missing half of the half moon. It has to be heard a few times to fully appreciate the tale, but in the end Stan’s psychedelic journey ends on a positive note.
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was never performed live to to its many intricacies and complexities. It has its moments of filler, but otherwise is a record I came to really appreciate. Small Faces career was short lived, with members splitting up and joining other bands, and I encourage anyone interested in their interesting history, and the history of this particular record to do some reading about them further.
This particular release that I own also comes with many great bonus tracks that are also worth a listen, featuring one of their hits Itchycoo Park.