The Small Faces: All or Nothing – 1965-1968

Stellar documentary of British Invasion giants

All or Nothing 1965-1968 is one of four documentaries released as part of a five-DVD British Invasion box set by Reelin’ in the Years Productions. It is a spectacular collection of footage that spans twenty-seven complete vintage performances, interviews with the principle band members reflecting on their time as seminal mod and psychedelic rockers, and superb vintage clips of the band creating in the studio, shopping on Carnaby Street and gigging at iconic clubs like the Marquee. The producers have performed miracles in digging up rare television and film footage, and archival interviews with Steve Marriott (from 1985) and Ronnie Lane (from 1988, his last filmed appearance) are complemented by contemporary interviews with Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan.

Though the Small Faces had only one chart hit in the U.S. (1968’s “Itchycoo Park”), their fame in the UK and Europe, not to mention their style, sound and musicianship, were in league with the Who and Stones. The band members post-Small Faces gigs brought a greater helping of stateside fame (Marriott with Humble Pie; Lane, McLagan and Jones with the Faces; and Jones with the latter-day Who), but this 101-minute documentary shows the Small Faces were a group to be reckoned with. Marriott was a ferocious front-man with an aggressive vocal delivery, hot guitar licks and a songwriting partnership with Ronnie Lane that matured from derivative R&B to original tunes that wove pop, rock and psych influences into their bedrock soul. The interviews trace the group’s original influences, the pop sides forced upon them, and the turning points at which they made artistic leaps forward.

Among the biggest events in the Small Faces’ development was a change in management and label from Don Arden and Decca to Andrew Loog Oldham and Immediate. The mod sounds and styles of their early singles quickly became psychedelic, but not before launching their new phase with the 1967 ode to methadrine, “Here Comes the Nice.” Their hair and fashions in the accompanying television performance find the band in transition between the dandy style of the mods and the floral and flowing elements of the hippie revolution. The influence of LSD can be heard in “Green Shadows” and the band’s U.S. breakthrough, “Itchycoo Park,” which McLagan suggests was a rebuttal to England’s formal system of higher education. The group’s pièce de résistance, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, is essayed here with a lip-synched clip of the title tune and a seven-song live-sung (but not played) set from the BBC’s Colour Me Pop.

The progression from the hard R&B of “Whatch Gonna Do About It” to their crowning concept album is impressive, but that it happened in only three years is amazing. The story of the Small Faces is told here in the band’s words and music, with interview footage woven among the music clips. The full performances, including four not featured in the documentary, can be viewed separately via DVD menu options. Lane’s full interview and a photo gallery are included as extras, along with a 24-page booklet featuring detailed credits and song notes. This disc will strike a deep nostalgic chord for UK fans, and will be a voyage of discovery for Americans familiar only with “All or Nothing,” “Itchycoo Park,” “Tin Soldier,” and “Lazy Sunday.” [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

The Small Faces’ Home Page
Reelin’ in the Years’ Home Page

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