The Small Faces have to be the most underrated rock band to emerge from England in the latter half of the '60s. While stealthily incorporating influences from the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Yardbirds, and Pink Floyd, the Small Faces found their own niche by blending a wealth of stylistic components with their driving, blues-based sound. With lead singer/guitarist Steve Marriott and bassist Ronnie Lane writing most of the material, the band convincingly tackled pop, folk, jazz, British musichall songs, psychedelia, and, of course, the classic English blues revival sound. In the process, they influenced bands ranging from Led Zeppelin ("Call It Something Nice") and Deep Purple to T. Rex and Queen. This budget hits collection brings the myriad mix together with 19 cuts from the band's prime 1967-1969 sides for Immediate Records. Along with acoustic power pop classics like "Itchycoo Park" and expansive, psychedelic instrumentals like "Ogdens Nut Gone Flake," other highlights include the melancholic folk number "Autumn Stone" (with shades of Nick Drake), the tongue-in-cheek cabaret cut "Lazy Afternoon," and the mod pop track "Here Comes the Nice." Along with Marriott's powerful vocals and guitar playing, special mention should be made of keyboard player Ian McLagan, whose tasty contributions on organ and electric piano nicely flesh out most of the material here. And while the 50-song The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette may offer a more thorough introduction to the band's best material, this Castle roundup is perfect for those who just want an overview of the later hits.
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