ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 5th, 2015

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - Week of January 5th, 2015 - SMALL FACES - BBC Sessions

FINALLY! The first posting in my new series, ALBUM OF THE WEEK. It's been awhile since I've blogged, four year actually. I've been thinking about this idea of a weekly random record review for quite some time - at least two years - but it's taken quite awhile to slip out of the perpetual inertia that has gripped me for way too long and get moving on it. I listen to about 20 albums or so per week, sometimes more and sometimes less. I have opinions about all of them and I really need to get them down on paper but that takes work and discipline. So, for better or worse, this here weekly installment is my New Year's resolution to be more disciplined as a writer, and we all know how lame those kinda promises are, abject failure awaits I am sure. Until that inglorious, near term flame out what better place to get things rolling than with the Small Faces, perhaps my favorite of the British Invasion combos with all of the playing ability of a master band like the Beatles or Kinks and all of the reckless bravado of the Who or Led Zeppelin. These guys had it all and churned out quite a few masterpieces along the way like Itchycoo Park, All Or Nothing, and that genius Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake album. The band never really had much impact here in America but when founders Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane split to form Humble Pie and the Faces respectively, that American mainstream success was finally achieved and the two bands also served to launch the careers of Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, and Peter Frampton (God help us all). I've listened to every Small Faces song to the nth degree and can wring out nearly every note and chord progression from the band's amazing catalog from my head. What had been missing for me all these years was the purely physical aspect of the band's music and while we still can't travel back in time (yet) and see these cats in their prime we can at least hear what they sounded like when they let their "balls drag on the concrete" (Ted Nugent's quote, not mine) on a convenient media type disk. And that's what the BBC Sessions is - a nice collection of great tunes played really, really loud and live. You can say all you want about Black Sabbath being the godfathers of metal but you'll really need to clean the crack cocaine out of your ears and re-listen to those crucial Small Faces singles being played live here and tell me again who invented what. There are a lot of these BBC Sessions albums out there - Beatles, Yardbirds, Who, Led Zeppelin, Pretty Things, etc. and the one thing that hasn't translated a half century later are those goofy interviews, how far we've come since Richard Meltzer decided to get as serious as the musical acts he was writing about and it's kinda hard to look back to the days before that without it feeling a bit savage. That is definitely the case here, as with others in the series, but the tunes are belters and come hard and fast. It's hard to keep up with blistering energy at times but the big payoff is Marriott killing it on the Tim Hardin tune If I Were A Carpenter. It seems appropriate that it took a house fire to tame this guy's restless soul, he was like a raging Otis Redding-esque inferno on the microphone. He, Ronnie Lane, and now Ian McLagan are all sorely missed but this album goes a long way in bringing them all back from the dead, if only for a moment as ghosts from an era when bands could actually be this gutsy and still maintain popular appeal for the most crucial years of the Sixties aka the High Mass.

If I Were A Carpenter

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