Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nik Cohn on The Small Faces

From his wonderful book Pop From The Beginning
'More to my taste though (than Scott Walker), were the Small Faces.
Originally, the Faces came out of the East End and they were ultimate Mods, small and neat and schnide. Very spotty. In the first place they were a muted echo of the Who. , and they were small ravers, loud and brash and really a bit dire. Once they'd settled down, though, they turned out to be not dire at all.
Their singer and lead guitarist, Steve Marriott, had once most suitably played the Artful Dodger in Oliver!. Now he looked like a teddy bear and showed a fine shamelessness, screaming himself purple and hurling himself against the mike as if he meant to swallow it whole. He sand well, too, wild and strangled. Bopping up and back. His knees clamped tight and his eyes screwed up, he'd be beserk and he'd be good. He'd have everything it took.
In many ways, the Faces have been the group that sums up all groups: they have that classic group gift for self-delusion. They've thought themselves artists when they've only been loons, they've talked endlessly about getting themselves together and making masterpieces but, somehow, they've wound up in discotheques instead. They've jumped aboard any arty fad possible but they've never quite got the point and, in the end, they've always made solid old-fashioned noises after all.
Finally, none of the crap has mattered: they've meant fun and they've lasted. Little and fierce and pantomime, they've come to be one of my most favourite acts.'
Worth noting that Cohn was writing at the time and had little time for art in pop music, preferring what he saw to be the more honest authentic primal gut level music that Rock'n'Roll started off as. He thought Sgt Pepper and everything that came from it was a step in completely the wrong direction. I recommend tracking this book down for a taste of what it felt to be a part of it all before everything became canonised and written in stone.

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