Just when the first-generation British Invasion bands galloped ahead into pop art in 1966, the Small Faces worked a heavy R&B groove on their 1966 debut. That's not to say that this pack of four sharp-suited mods were unaware of the times. If anything, no other British band of the mid-'60s was so keenly tuned into fashion, the four Small Faces capturing the style and sound of dancing pilled-up mods better even than the Who, possibly because the group could carry a groove better than the Who, as this tightly propulsive debut amply illustrates. Like many '60s debuts, The Small Faces is split between covers, songs the label pushed on the band, and originals, some clearly interpolations of songs they'd been covering in clubs. "Come on Children" echoes James Brown's "Think," and "You Need Loving" is based on Willie Dixon's "You Need Love." Later, Led Zeppelin would rework the Small Faces' "You Need Loving" into "Whole Lotta Love," and while it's easy to hear how Steve Marriott's raw-throated howl influenced Robert Plant as much as Marriott's heavy shards of guitar influenced Jimmy Page, what's striking about The Small Faces is that there is very little blues or rock & roll here: it's all hard-charging, driving R&B and soul, the emphasis all on the groove. By stressing the beat, the Small Faces carry themselves over some slight songwriting -- the band's energetic interplay carries them over the rough spots between "It's Too Late," "What'Cha Gonna Do About It," and "Sha La La La Lee," and that concentration even pushes them into trailblazing territory, as on the lean, ominous pulse of "E Too D." Such moments keep The Small Faces sounding fearless and fresh even when by other respects it is very much a record of its time.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine