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Music Review: Small Faces – Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake [Deluxe Edition]

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Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was the Small Faces’ most successful and by far most creative album. It was a huge hit in their home country, topping the British Record Retailer Album Chart for six weeks during 1968. It made their 1969 acrimonious break-up all the more depressing as one can only guess what delights might have followed.

Side one of the original release contained some of the finest psychedelic rock of the era. That was only an appetizer for the main course as side two was a concept based upon a fairy tale, Happiness Stan and his quest for the missing half-moon. The lyrics were witty and entertaining, while the music was an LSD trip in sound. Steve Marriott’s guitar phrasing was some of the best of the late 1960s and it all added up to a stunning achievement.

The album has now been reissued as a deluxe three-CD set. My only regret is the original award winning album sleeve is missing. It was based on an old Victorian era tobacco tin. It was circular and multi-layered and was one of the unique album jackets of all time. While it is pictured on the front of the CD case, it really does not give it due justice.

After you open the CD, proceed right to disc three, which contains the stereo version of the original album. It is the cleanest mix and clearest sound I have heard of the material.

Strings, dialogue, and brilliant guitar runs combine with witty and, in some cases, mythological lyrics to create a memorable experience. “Rollin’ Over” has a blazing riff that was the equal to anything Hendrix was producing at the time. “Song Of A Baker” is equally driven yet with a gentler approach. “Afterglow” was about as passionate as the Small Faces would ever get. “Rene” and “Happy Days Toy Town” were witty interludes during the serious late 1960s. Then there is the Who-like “The Hungry Intruder” and the jamming “The Journey.”

Disc one contains the mono version of the album. While it may be interesting for any fan of the group, it is limited by its sound and pales next to the stereo edition.

The second disc contains a cornucopia of unreleased alternative takes and early mixes. While some of the material is repetitive, there are a few gems to be found for fans of the Small Faces. Songs such as an early session mix of “Bun In The Oven,” a rare stereo version of “Mad John,” a mono mix of “Every Little Bit Hurts,” and an instrumental version of “The Fly” make their debuts.

Over four decades after its release, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake remains a mind expanding experience. It was one of the defining musical statements of the era, plus it solved the mystery of “Happiness Stan.”

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