There are quite a few novel characteristics about The Small Faces 1968 release Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, the latest of which happens to be its induction into Frumpzilla’s F-Tunes Hall of Fame…
You like novelty? Well, not withstanding the album’s 8-panel circular packaging (the first of its kind), depending on how one defines The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake may hold the distinction of being the first example of a true concept album. Unfortunately for The Small Faces, they never really managed to establish a foothold in America, though they did enjoy a fairly significant hit with 1967’s “Itchycoo Park” (the first British record to use the “Flanger” effect). As such their legacy on this side of the pond is probably closer to that of a “One Hit Wonder”.
In UK their impact runs much deeper, however. From 1965-1969 The Small Faces were regular Top 10ers in the British charts, even managing to knock The Beatle’s off the #1 spot on one occasion. They’re regularly cited as one of the major influences behind the 90’s Brit Pop surge.
Still, despite being at the apex of England’s Mod movement, for much of their career they struggled mightily to shake their Pop image, a pursuit that would eventually lead to the group’s demise; Steve Marriott going on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, and the rest of the lineup joining up with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood as The Faces. 1968’s Ogdens’ is a testament to said struggle, seeing the band plunge directly into heavier sounds and arrangements, as well as the psychedelia they’d only hinted at before.
That’s not to say that Ogdens’ abandons all pop elements, as they’re clearly present. The first half of the album consists of 6 solid power pop/rock numbers, the title track opener actually being an instrumental reworking of the group’s first originally penned single, “I’ve Got Mine” (it also happens to be my all-time favorite ring tone). “Rene” and “Lazy Sunday”, the latter a #2 hit in the UK despite the band not wishing the song to be released, deliberately apply a played up cockney feel that may require a slight case of Anglophilia to truly appreciate, but are worth the effort nonetheless. “Afterglow” and “Song of a Baker” stand out as two of the band’s, relatively edgier, all-time classic efforts.
The 2nd side of Ogdens’ is where the “concept” actually begins. With narrated interludes by British comedian and gibberish extradordinaire Stanley Unwin, the band musically chronicles the journey of Happiness Stan and his search for the missing half of the moon. Needless to say, it’s a trip, and may be best taken in while LUI, or perhaps LWI depending on your state, but that’s your call. I won’t spoil the details for you.
Just remember that life is just a bowl of All-Bran, and be sure to keep an ear out for a special guest appearance by a legendary Hendrix riff the band specifically asked to use. Jimi, like me, was apparently a big Small Faces fan.
1. Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
3. Long Agos and Worlds Apart
5. Song of a Baker
6. Lazy Sunday
7. Happiness Stan
8. Rollin’ Over
9. The Hungry Intruder
10. The Journey
11. Mad John
12. Happy Days Toy Town
Sonic Upholstery: 8.5
You should have this on the rack…