Small Faces

The Greatest Hits: The Immediate Years 1967-1969

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Okay, it's expensive as a four-CD set. And yeah, apart from "Itchycoo Park" and maybe "Lazy Sunday," not too much of what the Small Faces recorded ever made any lasting impression on American listeners. But there's a lot of good music here. The box opens up modestly enough with Steve Marriott's old band, the Moments, covering the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and doing one other song, "Money Money." A few of the band's Decca tracks that seem to float between Decca and Immediate follow, and then we plunge into the group's Immediate history. Andrew "Loog" Oldham's independent label wasn't much more organized than the typical blues label from Chicago in the 1950s, and the Small Faces' tape library is a mess. But the producers have included everything -- every stereo and mono version of each song (where a different mix exists), the five official live tracks, the unfinished backing tracks, every known outtake. Anyone who thinks this is overkill doesn't know the Small Faces -- they weren't much less prolific than the Rolling Stones, and were better than the Stones as both a soul band and a psychedelic band (the Stones never really made the jump into drug songs too comfortably); and based on the evidence, they could have cut the Who to shreds most nights. The sound varies, although it's all been nicely cleaned up (mildly CEDAR-ized, actually), and while three versions of "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" may seem like overkill, it's all fascinating stuff, watching certain songs change and evolve. This is where it ends for the serious fan.

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