The Small Faces, Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (1968)

One of my favorite eras of rock history is the 1967-1968 UK psychedelic revolution that arose in the wake of Sgt. Pepper. You've got the Stones' similar (if often derided) effort (Her Majesty's Satanic Request), Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates of Dawn, the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle, the Pretty Things' SF Sorrow, and to a lesser extent Status Quo's Picturesque Matchstickable Messages and a few others.  (I've got a great mix of highlights on Spotify you should check out.) And of course this amazing triumph by the Small Faces.

Ogdens' is divided into two halves.  The first half is a pretty straightforward classic rock album, with a few mild hints of psychedelia, full of amazing stand-alone tracks, from the groovy instrumental title track, the romantic anthem "Afterglow," the incessantly catchy "Long Agos and Worlds Apart," and the playful cockney music-hall of "Lazy Sunday."  (The latter was something of a goof, and singer Steve Marriott was apparently pissed off that the record company issued it as a single -- a rare instance of the company getting it right.)

It rocks pretty hard in places, presaging Marriott's work with Humble Pie, the band he founded with Peter Frampton after leaving the Small Faces shortly after this album's release. But it's infused with an infectious charm and whimsy that neither Humble Pie nor the Rod Stewart-fronted Faces could recreate.

The second half is more characteristic of the times, a loose fairly tale-styled narrative joined by some goofy spoken word introductions.  The narrative is cute enough, but the songs stand on their own regardless of the story they purport to tell.  It's whimsical, very British, and occasionally flat-out trippy (i.e. "The Journey"), but somehow avoids being as badly dated as one might expect. (I eventually burned myself a substitute version of the cd that omits the narration and plugs in a few contemporaneous outtakes which gives the album a more timeless feel.)

While the Small Faces had up until then been a largely singles-based band, with some solid early British Invasion tunes like "Sha La La La Lee" and psychedelic pop like "Itchycoo Park," Ogdens' is start to finish a fantastic album, and deserves to be classified alongside contemporaneous classics by the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks.

Here's some "Lazy Sunday" for you.


Buy it on Amazon.