Small Faces

Colour Me Pop: The Small Faces/The Move [DVD]

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Colour Me Pop was a BBC television series from the late 1960s that devoted itself to some of the best rock & roll acts of the period, without the usual compromises that such programs engaged in -- groups would perform on camera, with their microphones live and their instruments plugged in, for as long as 30 minutes at a clip, and they wouldn't limit themselves to singles, either; Colour Me Pop was among the first television shows on either side of the Atlantic that could be used to perform and showcase album-length bodies of music. The jewel of the series' output may have been the early 1968 appearance by the Small Faces on which they performed much of Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, an album whose contents they never did in full in actual concert. They open with a pounding rendition of "Song of a Baker," followed by the conceptual video for "Lazy Sunday" (which, for all of the video out on the group, is hard to come by); and then, after host Mike Dean describes Ogden's as "one of the most idiosyncratic [only in England at the end of the 1960s would a rock & roll-show host use a word like that] albums of our time," they give us the conceptual piece "Happiness Stan," complete with an on-screen appearance by the album's narrator, Stan Unwin. The source material is at least two generations off from what it should ideally be, and there are some minor glitches and even signs of tape-stretch, but the viewing is still pretty impressive, in part because there is so little extant footage of the Small Faces playing and singing live. The band very obviously relished the opportunity to switch gears between the acoustic and lyrical psychedelic numbers such as "The Hungry Intruder" and "Mad John," which they didn't get to do very often on-stage, and harder rocking pieces like "Rollin' Over" and "The Journey."

The Move's set is from a much better condition source, and captures the four-man lineup behind Shazam in peak form -- all one has to do to fully enjoy it is ignore the minor image drop-outs and also the relatively unobtrusive visible time-code at the top of the screen, which the anonymous bootleggers were obliged to leave it when preparing this unauthorized release. Whether they're playing hard electric numbers like "I Can Hear Grass Grow" or acoustic guitar driven pieces such as "Beautiful Daughter," or pieces that were otherwise unrepresented in their history, such as "The Christian Life" and "Goin' Back," they sound great -- indeed, the version of "The Last Thing on My Mind" here is superior to the officially released studio recording on Shazam, and also makes good use of super-imposition and split-screen effects for its time. Oh, and the sound is excellent.

Of course, releases like this will mostly be of interest to hardcore fans, who won't be disappointed with anything that they find here. Each song gets a chapter-marker, and both sets give a good idea of what each of these bands could do live; fans of Bev Bevan will be especially impressed with the sound he gets out of a snare drum. The only exception to the high quality of the image is some of the footage on the closing number, "Blackberry Way," which shows distortion.