Small Faces

Decca Anthology 1965-1967

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This 36-song double-CD set covers most of the group's released songs from Decca, minus one song ("I Can't Make It") that they lost the rights to, and augmented with a handful of solo tracks by Steve Marriott and songs by Jimmy Winston's band. The sound is fair -- none of the Decca songs by any band from this period seem to be in great shape -- but not earth-shattering; what is earth-shattering is the performance of Marriott and company, especially on their earlier tracks. Despite being worked to death by the record company and their own touring schedule, and their rapidly growing disillusionment, they generated some incredibly passionate British Invasion-era R&B, embracing Stax and the more soulful sides of Motown with equal ease. The later material shows the first appearance of the druggy ambience and psychedelic haze that was to characterize their Immediate period, not surprising since they moved from Decca to Immediate in a matter of days, the moment they had enough material to satisfy (at least on paper) their Decca contract, with some songs ("E to D," etc.) shared in different versions between the two companies. The packaging is a bit unwieldy, however, and while the photos are great, Paolo Hewitt's well-intentioned notes seem driven more by enthusiasm than care or skill (not only is the connection between "You Need Loving" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" debatable, but he gets the title of the Zeppelin song wrong, referring to it as "Whole Lotta Lovin'."

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