The Small Faces reissues have hit the stores. The two Decca releases Small Faces and From the Beginning along with the two albums from the Immediate label Small Faces, and Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake are each released as deluxe two-disc editions with the exception of Ogdens’… which has now been expanded to three discs.
The packaging is the familiar eight-panel digi-pak with the two discs seated in transparent trays in the middle two panels. A nice touch are the reproductions of the original vinyl record labels positioned right behind where the CDs sit. The third disc in the case of Ogdens’…slides into the right-hand panel/sleeve, allowing the design to be fairly consistent across all four of these reissues.
One gripe is the loss of the transparent sleeve that these deluxe editions used to slide into – the overprinted ‘Deluxe Edition’ motif on opaque band at the bottom worked really well. ABBA‘s recent The Visitors reissue maintained the sleeve, but the Small Faces (like the Kinks reissues of 2011) have to make do with a disposable strip of sticky tape which acts as a seal and also displays the ‘Deluxe Edition’ motif. It is easier to remove than you might think although the area where the digi-pack folds in on itself (ie opposite the spine) is prone damage from the adhesive on the sticky tape.
The 24-page booklets have been put together with much care and attention and contain some great essays by Mark Paytress telling the story of each album with plenty of new quotes from surviving members Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan and Kenney Jones (the two men are credited as executive producers). There is also extensive archive photography from magazine covers of the day, international picture sleeves for the various singles and shots of the original master tapes.
The debut album Small Faces adds the Patterns and I’ve Got Mine singles with their respective B-sides, and the bonus disc offers a mixture of alternate mono versions and ‘electronically processed stereo’ versions. It should be noted that everything from this deluxe edition has been released previously.
Having left Decca after only the one album, the next album the band recorded for Andrew Oldham’s Immediate label was also, confusingly, entitled Small Faces. The deluxe edition gives us the original MONO album with eight bonus tracks (three previously unreleased) while disc two offers the original STERO album with nine bonus tracks with two previously unreleased (an alternate take 2 of Green Circles and the backing track of (If You Think You’re) Groovy.
Former manager Don Arden was not happy with the group ousting him (obviously) and he put together a ‘spoiler’ album which he actually managed to get out three weeks earlier than the Small Faces album that came out on Immediate (both were released in June 1967). From The Beginning was a mix a A-sides, first album outtakes and work-in-progress for a second LP compiled by Arden with no involvement from the group. This new deluxe edition adds further to this rather untidy compilation with alternate takes and some alternate mixes in ‘Electronically Processed Stereo’.
The final deluxe edition is the band’s most celebrated album, Ogens’ Nut Gone Flake. This psychedelic rock classic enjoyed a six-week run at the top of the UK charts in June and July 1968 and is presented in mono and stereo (on separate discs), although some of the tracks in mono are disappointing, with Steve Marriot’s vocals lost in a very muddy Afterglow for example. The disc of previously unreleased tracks will be of keen interest to fans but unfortunately most of ‘Alternate USA’ mixes largely inferior to the standard album mixes, particularly with regards to the vocals.
These albums have been released and reissued many times over the years, and Ogdens’… aside there is not a massive amount of unreleased material on offer. However Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones involvement is telling and the presentation in terms of packaging and the quality of the content in the booklets should probably do enough to persuade any fans that might be wavering.
This isn’t the end of the story either. A 5CD box set is due later in 2012 which will feature a combination of Autumn Stone (a posthumous 1969 compilation album) tracks including the live material, previously issued Decca material, and a mixture of released and unreleased Immediate material with ‘very little’ duplication from the Immediate Deluxe Editions according to reissue producer Rob Caiger.