by Dan Smith
Current Band Members: Ian McLagan (Small Faces: 1965-69, 1975-78, and Faces: 1969-75, 2009-Present), Kenney Jones (Small Faces: 1965-69, 1975-78, and Faces: 1969-75, 2009-Present), Ronnie Wood (Faces: 1969-1975, 2009-Present), Glen Matlock (Faces: 2010-Present), Mick Hucknall (Faces: 2010-Present).
Past Band Members: Jimmy Winston (Small Faces: 1965), Steve Marriot (Small Faces: 1965-68, 1975-78), Ronnie Lane (Small Faces: 1965-69, 1975, and Faces: 1969-73), Rod Stewart (Faces: 1969-1975), Tetsu Yamauchi (Faces: 1973-75), Jesse Ed Davis (Faces: 1975), Rick Wills (Small Faces: 1977-78), Jimmy McCulloch (Small Faces: 1977-78).
Top Tracks: ‘Itchycoo Park’, ‘All or Nothing’, ‘Lazy Sunday’, ‘Tin Soldier’, ‘Ooh La La’.
The Small Faces line-up consisted of (from left to right): Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, Steve Marriot and Ian McLagan
Although they never achieved commercial success in America, the sound of the Small Faces remains as relevant and distinctive in the present day as it originally was in swinging London in the mid-1960s. As such, in 2012 the group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Their subsequent transformation into merely ‘Faces’ added Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood to the group, after lead singer Steve Marriott left to form Humble Pie. However this incarnation wasn’t to last long either, with Stewart soon eclipsing the group’s popularity and launching a solo career.
Possessing a psychedelic sound in tracks such as ‘Here Come The Nice’ – a blatant celebration of recreational drug use – and a key exponent of the original Mod movement, their full musical range was arguably never fully appreciated in the US.
But on home shores, the group formed in London boasted vocally one of the greatest frontmen of the decade in Marriott, and produced one of the most daring progressive rock albums ever with, ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’.
Like many of their contemporaries, Small Faces were a band initially built on the blues, and made the transition to rock and roll in order to gain mainstream acceptance.
Signed by Decca in 1965, the group’s original guitarist-turned-organist Jimmy Winston left after disputes with Marriott, to be replaced by ace keyboardist Ian McLagan. The new line-up was Marriott and McLagan, joined by Kenney Jones on drums and bassist Ronnie Lane.
With the new line-up, they achieved their first chart success with ‘Sha La La La Lee’, which rose to number three in the charts in January, 1966, before the release of their self titled first album in the same year. With this, they achieved mass popularity in the UK, appearing on national television regularly.
In August 1966, the romantic peak of the flowery ideology of Sixties London, they achieved their greatest single success, with the impassioned masterpiece, ‘All or Nothing’ storming to the top of the charts.
After splitting from Decca, the band were instantly snapped up by Immediate records, where they went on to achieve moderate Stateside success with “Itchycoo Park” and later, in 1968, with the jovial tune about neighbourhood disputes, ‘Lazy Sunday’.
The Small Faces ceased to exist a year later, as Marriott quit the band after walking off-stage at a gig on New Years’ Eve. But it wasn’t to be the end for the rest of the clan, as they were joined by two new band-mates: the effervescent pairing of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.
Altering their name to Faces, not The Faces, as often erroneously claimed, the group achieved only modest success before their break-up in 1975. Their highest chart effort came courtesy of number one album, ‘Ooh La La’.
Despite their brevity, Faces acted as a launch-pad for many of its members’ future endeavours. The raspy voiced Stewart embarked on a highly fruitful solo career, Wood went on to join The Rolling Stones in 1975, and Kenney Jones drummed with The Who following Keith Moon’s death in 1978.
If ever all members of the groups had reformed, it would have become a bona-fide rock and roll super-group.
Small Faces briefly reformed between 1975 and 1978, but Ronnie Lane left following an argument during their first rehearsal. Despite recording two albums, the band struggled to achieve the same level of mainstream success; quickly being swamped by the ever-growing Punk movement.
And whilst Faces (minus Rod Stewart) reformed in 2009 for a one-off charity show, the latest incarnation exists in the form of Wood, McLagan, Jones and Glen Matlock (former bassist for the Sex Pistols), supported by former Simply Red vocalist Mick Hucknall.
It’s arguably only in later years – particularly due to their influence on the Britpop movement of the 1990s – that the group’s legacy is truly recognised and they are so deservedly appreciated.