Sunday, April 5, 2020

Small Faces - 1862

Small Faces – 1862

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  Hello The Universal
2.  Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass
3.  Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall
4.  The Autumn Stone
5.  Evolution
6.  The War of The Worlds

Side B:
7.  Red Balloon
8.  What You Will
9.  Collibosher
10.  Growing Closer
11.  Wrist Job
12.  Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am

Continuing our weekly Social Distancing bonus reconstructions, this a long-requested one.  This is a reconstruction of the unfinished final Small Faces album, 1862.  Recorded throughout 1968, Small Faces broke up before finishing the album.  Several of the tracks would instead eventually appear on their posthumous 1969 collection The Autumn Stone.  This reconstruction attempts to present 1862 as a completed album, using the best quality stereo mixes of the material. 

After their smash hits of “Itchycoo Park” and “Tin Soldier”, the release of Small Faces third album Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake ushered the band into the emerging art-rock scene, being a psychedelic concept album with unique, circular packaging.  Its single “Lazy Sunday” charted to number two in 1968, making them one of the top bands in the UK.  Although the band felt they had already achieved their masterpiece, they returned to Trident studios with Glyn Johns to work on a follow-up album the day before Ogden’s release in May.  The theoretical fourth album was titled 1862, named after the metal plaque on the hundred-year-old chapel owned by Marriott, where the band rehearsed.  Top priority was a cover of Tim Hardin’s “Red Balloon”, a bittersweet folk ballad about heroin addiction.  Also tracked were two instrumentals, ambiguously named “Fred” and “Jack”, which the band never went back to finish.  

Several weeks later in June, the Small Faces went in to Olympic Studios to record a stopgap single between Ogden’s and 1862: the folk ballad “Hello The Universal” and the poppy rocker “Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass”.  An elaborate third song was recorded, “Wide Eyed Girl on the Wall”, but was apparently never completed, lacking vocals; like “Fred” and “Jack”, Small Faces never returned to complete the track.  The two finished songs were released as a single at the end of the month, but failed to mimic their previous success, despite being better compositions with more refined arrangement and production.  Furthermore, due to a pressing typo, “Hello The Universal” was misscredited simply as “The Universal”. 

Touring to support Odgen’s also proved difficult, as the material was just too complex to perform live.   Frontman Steve Marriott pitched the idea of adding a fifth member as a second guitarist, freeing himself to focus on singing—the prime candidate was Marriott’s friend Peter Frampton.  The rest of the band detested the idea, and they soldered on as a quartet.  Returning to Olympic in September, two more contrasting songs were tracked: the hard rocker of “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am” and the pastoral folk ballad “The Autumn Stone.”  The band did not take so kindly to the former, with bassist Ronnie Lane storming out of the sessions and keyboardist Ian McLagan refusing to play on it.  Regardless, the heavy riff rock of “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am” signaled the direction Marriott wanted to move in, and he brought in Nicky Hopkins to complete McLagan’s parts! 

In December, Glyn Johns invited the Small Faces to act as a backing band for French singer Johnny Hallyday and to record an album.  Being in a state of confusion, uncertainty and debt to their label, the band accepted but somehow found Peter Frampton joining their ranks from the recommendation of either Marriott or Johns.  In the course of the sessions, a few Marriott originals were worked up for Hallyday: a cover of an older Small Faces song “That Man” and two newer compositions, “Bang!” and “What You Will”.  The perceptions of the resultant album Riviere Ouvre Ton were contrasting; while McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones thought the sessions were awful, Marriott relished the opportunity to work with Frampton and took this as a sign to restart anew.  Marriott officially quit Small Faces, storming off stage on their New Years Eve performance. 

With perfect timing, Immediate Records released a new mix of “Afterglow”, backed with “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am” (again misprinted as “Wham Bam Thank You Man”) in March 1969.  Marriott immediately formed a new group with Frampton called Humble Pie, with a decidingly heavier sound, as heard in “Wham Bam”.  Their debut single “Natural Born Bugie” featured a new recording of “Fred”, the instrumental from the May Trident sessions, now including a vocal and retitled “Wrist Job”.  Humble Pie’s debut album As Safe as Yesterday Is was released in August, which featured new recordings of “Bang” and “What You Will”, as well as folk jam “Growing Closer”, written as a collaboration between Frampton and McLagan, who had briefly rehearsed with Humble Pie before declining a position in the band.  Simultaneously, McLagan, Lane and Jones regrouped with new frontman Rod Stewart and future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood as just simply the Faces.  By the end of the year, the quintet began recording their debut album, First Step, which had a very rootsy atmosphere.  While largely Stewart and Wood compositions, the 1970 album did feature an older Ronnie Lane original, “Stone”, which initially appeared as a collaboration with Pete Townshend as “Evolution” the previous year.    

Putting Faces and Humble Pie aside, Immediate also attempted a final cash grab for the Small Faces: a posthumous compilation album originally titled In Memorium, which contained some of the material recorded for 1862: “Red Balloon”, “Wide Eyed Girl on the Wall” and “The Autumn Stone.”  In Memorium also included a pair of songs long-attributed to 1862, but which were actually Ogden’s outtakes: “Call It Something Nice”, recorded at the very first Ogden’s session in April 1967, and “Collibosher”, recorded at the very last Odgen’s session in April 1968!  The Small Faces showed dismay for the morbid title, and Immediate withdrew and renamed the album The Autumn Stone, reissued as a double LP.  This edition added “The Universal” and “Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am”, now harboring most of the finished 1862 recordings.  Throughout the years, the twin instrumentals “Fred” and “Jack” made their way from the vaults to discount-bin anthology CDs, both mysteriously retitled to “The Pig Trotters” and “The War of The Worlds” without any band authorization.  This was the final say of 1862, its scraps littering The Autumn Stone and as various CD reissue bonus tracks and as a living mystery in the minds of Small Faces fans. 

Interestingly, some clues to 1862 were found in a blog post by Mick Taylor in 2008 regarding the backstory of the song “Red Balloon”; the blog post had some contribution from Toby Marriott, Steve’s son.  In the post, Toby mentions he had once read his father’s 1968 songbook, which stated the possible tracklist for 1862: “The Autumn Stone”, “Red Balloon”, “Collibosher”, “Buttermilk Boy”, “Wrist Job”, “Piccaninny”, “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall”, “Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass” and a song only referenced as “Blues Jam.”  What is strange about this tracklist is its inclusion of the December 1966 outtake “Piccaninny”, severely out-of-date amongst the 1968 sessions, as well as “Buttermilk Boy”, recorded for As Safe as Yesterday Is.  Toby also mentions he no longer had the songbook, so he had to have been listing them from memory.  Can his recollection be trusted?  We will use this as a simple guidepost to reconstruct 1862 and try to logically fill in the gaps. 

For my reconstruction, we will take all these facts into account, but primarily intending to make an 1862 that sound musically cohesive.  We will also exclusively use Small Faces mixes found on the Here Come The Nice box set, being all stereo remixes that sound simply exquisite, as opposed to the crud on The Autumn Stone.  We will also rely on the several instrumental tracks, but we will appropriately fade them out to make them of a concise length and spread them throughout the album.  I have chosen to exclude both “Piccaninny” and “Call It Something Nice”, as they both pre-dated the recording sessions for 1862 and do not sonically sound identical enough to the rest of the material (although I will use “Collibosher”, as it was at least tracked in 1968).  Additionally, we will use some tracks from As Safe As Yesterday Is and First Step, since a few of their tracks dated from the 1862 era and, fortunately for us, sound sonically similar to the finished 1862 tracks anyways. 

Side A begins with the single that highlighted this era, “Hello The Universal” and “Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass,” both great introductions to the album.  Next, “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall”, the stereo mix which has a new fade-out to match the mono mix, followed by “The Autumn Stone.”  Next I chose Face’s “Evolution” as not only does it feature most of the Small Faces, it could have very well been Ronnie Lane’s contribution to the original 1862 album since the song dated from around that time.  Side A dramatically closes with “The War of The Worlds”, faded out to make it an appropriate length. 

Side B begins with “Red Balloon”, another keystone song in 1862.  This is followed by the Humble Pie version of “What You Will” since the song was worked on by Small Faces during the Hallyday sessions, not to mention the song distinctly sounds like an 1862 song!  Although “Collibosher” dates from the final Ogden’s sessions, it does sound remarkably like an 1862 song, so I am including it here, again fading it out early to be concise.  Next, I’ve chosen “Growing Closer” from As Safe As Yesterday Is, as it could have been Ian McLagan’s contribution to the album, not to mention the acoustic and flute seemed to fit perfectly in the album!  Following is “Wrist Job”, using the Small Face’s instrumental instead of the Humble Pie lyrical version.  The album closes with a punch—“Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am”, in true stereo! 

Sources used:
Small Faces – Here Come The Nice (2014 Immediate Records box set)
Faces – First Step (2015 Rhino remaster)
Humble Pie – As Safe As Yesterday Is (2008 Repertoire Records remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Who - Who's Lily (UPGRADE)

The Who – Who’s Lily
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)
March 2020 Upgrade

Side A:
1.  Armenia City in The Sky
2.  Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
3.  Pictures of Lily
4.  In The Hall of The Mountain King
5.  Our Love Was
6.  I Can See For Miles

Side B:
7.  I Can’t Reach You
8.  Girl’s Eyes
9.  Early Morning Cold Taxi
10.  Relax
11.  Sodding About
12.  Rael

Continuing my set of “Social Distancing” bonus uploads—once a week until we’re out of quarantine—is a long-requested upgrade to The Who’s unreleased 1967 album Who’s Lily.  Standing as the working title of their follow-up to A Quick One—or Jigsaw Puzzle in my continuity—the album was revised from a loose collection of songs into a conceptual framework that mimicked a pirate radio broadcast and released as their seminal album The Who Sell Out.  This reconstruction attempts to reproduce what the original incarnation of the album could have sounded like, before the Sell Out concept.  Some new edits were created and several tracks crossfaded for continuity.   The album is again presented all in mono—as all early The Who should!—and uses the best possible masters for each track.  

Upgrades to this March 2020 edition are:

  • Dropped “Silas Stingy”, “Glittering Girl” and “Tattoo” for historical accuracy.
  • Added “Girl’s Eyes”, “Early Morning Taxi” and “Sodding About” for historical accuracy.
  • New mono fold of “In The Hall of the Mountain King”, including the into. 
  • New edit of Sell Out mix of “Our Love Was”, with a clean intro and outro from the alternate mono mix.
  • New edit of “Rael” parts 1 and 2

As London entered 1967 and became a lot more swingin', The Who found themselves in a rapidly changing music scene.  Contemporaries Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were laying the ground for a more wild sound and The Who’s mod image was beginning to seem outdated.  To keep up with their competition, The Who returned to IBC studios in early April to cut a handful of songs for a new single: “Glittering Girl”, “Doctor Doctor” and “Pictures of Lily”, the later being an exquisite specimen of power pop, concerning masturbation.  The song was just what The Who needed and shot up the charts, establishing The Who as a force that once again could be reckoned with in this upcoming year of musical change.  In keeping up with these tides, the band planned to follow the single with a purely instrumental EP and even recorded a duo of songs for it—the bass-driven “Sodding About” and a crazed rendition of Edvard Greig’s “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt.  Although the duo of songs seemed to anticipate and embrace the forthcoming psychedelia craze, the results were less than satisfactory and the instrumentals were set aside, the EP concept scrapped.  The Who would have to go back to what they did best: writing great pop songs and performing them with gusto.

In May the band returned to the studio to cut a slew of new songs for their forthcoming third album, built around the previous month’s success of “Pictures of Lily”, making the album’s provisional title Who’s Lily.  Much had been learned from splitting the songwriting duties on A Quick One, and all Who members once again contributed original material: Daltrey offered “Early Morning Cold Taxi”; Moon offered “Girl’s Eyes”; Entwhistle offered “Someone’s Coming”; Pete offered what he thought was his magnum opus, “I Can See For Miles”; and finally “Armenia City in the Sky”, a song written by Pete’s driver Speedy Keen (of Thunderclap Newman) which fully captured the current psychedelic era.   With half an album started, The Who turned their eyes across the Atlantic for a handful of shows in New York and a spot in the famous Montery Pop Festival, co-headlining with The Who’s chief British competition: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Briefly returning home to De Lane Lea Studios in July, The Who cut the basics for two more Who’s Lily tracks, “I Can’t Reach You” and “Relax”.  They immediately left for a three-month tour of North America with Herman’s Hermits and additional work on Who’s Lily would have to be done on the road, across the ocean.

The Who's seafaring seemed to be an influence on the new album, as Townshend unearthed a rock opera he had been composing since the beginning of the year, concerning a soldier from the fictional country of Rael who travels across the sea to battle the invading Chinese.  In an attempt to finish Who’s Lily for its proposed summer release, Townshend whittled his rock opera down from 30 minutes into a 10 minute opus; it was further whittled down as much as possible for consideration as a single!  “Rael” was recorded at Mirasound Studios in New York with Bob Dylan’s keyboardist Al Kooper, but it’s 6-minute run time excluded it from a single release and "Rael" was tossed into the batch of other album-contenders.  Two more songs were recorded at Mirasound with further August recording at Columbia Studios in Nashville for the single that “Rael” could not occupy: a balled called “Our Love Was” and another power-pop song about masturbation, “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand”, the later released as a single in the US.  After more work was done at Columbia Studios to complete the unfinished tracks recorded throughout the year, as well as a September session at Goldstar in LA to complete “I Can See For Miles”, a total of ten album contenders were to be paired with “Pictures of Lily” (and possibly it’s b-side “Doctor Doctor” or session outtake “Glittering Girl”).  This was most certainly the Who’s Lily album, but was it the best album The Who could muster in this changing musical climate?  Was it a good idea to build an album around a straight-ahead power-pop song midst the increasingly colorful Summer of Love?  The Who gave pause to Who’s Lily and they would have to come up with the album’s selling point.   

Throughout 1967, The Who recorded various commercial jingles, including adverts for Coke in April and Great Shakes in May.  Perhaps the success of these adverts inspired The Who to use it as a framework for a redesigned Who’s Lily.  Upon returning home in October, The Who hit the studio and cut a number of ridiculous faux commercial jingles: “Medac”, “Top Gear”, “Heinz Baked Beans” and “Odorono”.  These jingles would be interspersed throughout the proper Who songs on their upcoming album, designed to replicate a pirate radio broadcast.  This sudden burst of inspiration fueled the band to pump out several more proper Who songs to trump the weaker material recorded earlier in the year: Entwhistle’s creepy character-study “Silas Stingy”; Townshend’s paced classic “Tattoo” and the atmospheric acoustic ballad “Sunrise”; updated versions of “Glittering Girl” (now with a stronger rhythm and Roger’s vocal), “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand” (now acoustically laid-back) and “Rael” (now more typically power-pop but lacking the psychedelic majesty of the New York version).  Choosing the original “Rael” over the new version (although the final minute was edited off due to time limitations of the LP), several more jingles were cut—"Jaguar", “Premiere Drums”, “Rotosound String”, “John Mason Cars”, “Bag O’ Nails”, “Charles Atlas” and “Track Records”—and Sell Out was completed.  Released in December, it was a critical and commercial success, being one of the most obvious and intentional rock concept albums, one which pushed into the borders of pop-art.  But is there a way we can hear the original commercial-free version?

For this reconstruction of Who’s Lily we will stick to the batch of songs prepared up until the end of the American tour, as that seems to be the point where Who’s Lily became Sell Out.  We will also exclusively keep the album in mono for two reasons: 1) a stereo “Pictures of Lily” does not exist and 2) early The Who simply sounds better in mono!  All the songs recorded between April and August 1967 are fair game, although we will drop the two weaker Entwhistle tracks “Doctor, Doctor” and “Someone’s Coming”, already featured as b-sides anyways.  We will also exclude “Glittering Girl”, since the more refined version was not recorded until October (which could be saved for Who’s For Tennis, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…).  Leaving only ten real contenders for the album, we will use both of the instrumentals from April, as they give the album a slightly different and more heavy, psychedelic atmosphere, making Who’s Lily more contemporaneous for 1967. 

Side A of my reconstruction begins with “Armenia City in The Sky”, taken from the 2014 HD Tracks remaster of Sell Out, the most pristine source of its original mono mix.  Following is the original US single mono mix of “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand”, a bonus track from the aforementioned HDTracks remaster.  The pseudo-title-track follows, “Pictures of Lily” taken from its currently best source, The Who Hits 50.  In a nod to the band’s brief initial concept of an instrumental EP, I have included a mono fold of “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from the 2009 Sell Out Deluxe; although admittedly this track probably would not have been featured on Who’s Lily, it serves as an interesting diversion and fits the psychedelic theme of the album.  Following is “Our Love Was” from the 2014 HDTracks remaster, but using the clean intro and outro from the alternate mono mix found.  Closing Side B is the song that is essential to be heard in mono: “I Can See For Miles” from the 2014 HDTracks remaster.

Side B starts appropriately with the 2014 mono remaster of “I Can’t Reach You”, followed by John Entwhistle’s featured lead-vocal on Who’s Lily, Moon’s “Girl’s Eyes”, taken from the 2009 remaster of Sell Out and collapsed to mono.  Likewise, the power-pop bliss of “Early Morning Cold Taxi” follows, taken from the 1995 remaster of Sell Out and, again, collapsed to mono.  The droning psyche-rock of “Relax” follows, also taken from the 2014 mono remaster, followed by the second heavy psyche instrumental “Sodding About” which creates a musical continuity to the album, taken from the 2009 Sell Out remaster and collapsed to mono.  The album concludes with the cleaner-sounding early mono mix of “Rael” that includes an otherwise extracted verse, with its actual part 2 tagged onto the end, as the song was meant to be heard in its full six-and-a-half minute glory, both found on the 2009 Sell Out remaster.  Who's Lily's final touch is the psychedelic cover art by Mark Heggen, taken from the poster included with the original copies of Sell Out--truly a picture of Lily!  

Sources used:
Sell Out (1995 Polydor remaster)
Sell Out (2009 Polydor Deluxe Edition)
Sell Out (2014 HDTracks mono remaster)
The Who Hits 50! (2014 Geffin Records)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included