The Sto­ries Be­hind The Songs

Small Faces

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Richard Pur­den The 50th an­niver­sary deluxe edi­tion of Og­dens’ Nut Gone Flake is out now via BMG.

Although Lazy Sun­day was a big hit, drum­mer Ken­ney Jones says it was “the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin in fin­ish­ing us off”.

Not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the band’s style and re­leased with­out their knowl­edge, it nev­er­the­less be­came a big hit – and, says drum­mer Ken­ney Jones, “was the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin in fin­ish­ing us off”.

While on an ex­ten­sive tour in the spring of 1968, the Small Faces were bliss­fully un­aware that they’d scored their big­gest UK hit sin­gle since All Or Noth­ing – which made No.1 al­most two years pre­vi­ously. Lazy Sun­day, which started out as some­thing “to make each other laugh more than any­thing else”, as front­man Steve Mar­riott put it, is ar­guably still their best-known song.

“We didn’t know any­thing about it,” drum­mer Ken­ney Jones ex­plains to­day. “Steve Mar­riott bought a copy of Melody Maker, we read through it, looked at the charts and thought: ‘Fuckin’ hell, we’ve got a hit record here with Lazy Sun­day.’”

Com­posed at Mar­riott’s flat in Chiswick over­look­ing the Thames, it was in­spired by feuds with his neigh­bours. The then-20year-old Mar­riott had in­stalled sev­eral large speak­ers in the flat, much to the cha­grin of his fel­low Ey­ott Green res­i­dents.

“He rented this beau­ti­ful two-storey apart­ment with beau­ti­ful car­pets, paint­ings, fur­ni­ture, and it was all wrecked,” re­called key­board player Ian McLa­gan. “And it stunk; the dogs had shit all over the bal­cony.”

In re­tal­i­a­tion for the neigh­bours’ con­stant bang­ing on the wall, Mar­riott and his friend Mick O’ Sul­li­van (the sub­ject of Here Come The Nice and co-writer of Green Cir­cles) also laced the neigh­bours’ wa­ter sup­ply with LSD.

While Lazy Sun­day is cred­ited to just Mar­riott and bassist Ron­nie Lane, all four mem­bers of the band got into the tonguein-cheek spirit of song, send­ing up their East End child­hoods.

“Steve wrote most of it,” says Jones. “It started off about the neigh­bours bang­ing on the walls either side of him, and Ron­nie Lane went along with that, but it was mainly Steve. We all added bits, be­cause it was all about the cul­ture we were part of.”

Cock­ney histri­on­ics and an af­fa­ble en­quiry about back­ache all added to the song’s com­i­cal mu­sic-hall charm. As did a low-bud­get promo shot at the drum­mer’s fam­ily home in Step­ney in East Lon­don. It also fea­tured Jones’s for­mer neigh­bour pre­tend­ing to stran­gle Mar­riott.

“We all just went along with the video in the end be­cause the song was al­ready a hit,” says Jones. “If you look at the house next door to where Steve is, that’s where my aunt Mary and un­cle Bert lived. Un­cle Bert had lum­bago, so I put that line in there.”

A sug­ges­tion from Hol­lies singer Al­lan Clarke that Mar­riott should sing in less of a transat­lantic ac­cent was said to have in­spired the over-the-top cock­ney af­fec­ta­tions in the vo­cal per­for­mance (“That sounds like it’s true,” says Jones, “Al­lan Clarke prob­a­bly did say that”). It also fur­ther ce­mented Mar­riott’s Art­ful Dodger guise, a role he’d played on the West End stage in Oliver! eight years pre­vi­ously, aged 13, per­form­ing the songs Con­sider Your­self and I’d Do Any­thing.

For all Lazy Sun­day’s suc­cess, the band mem­bers’ feel­ings for the song haven’t al­ways been all that pos­i­tive. Jones sug­gests that Lazy Sun­day not only stunted the band’s pro­gres­sion, but was also “the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin in fin­ish­ing us off”.

Recorded as part of Og­dens’ Nut Gone Flake, their third stu­dio al­bum, it was re­leased ahead of that record as the first sin­gle from it – against the band’s wishes.

“We were try­ing to lose our teeny­bop­per im­age and were pro­gress­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter record­ing Og­dens’ Nut Gone Flake, which we were very proud of,” Jones says. “When an­other rinky-dink com­mer­cial record with Steve singing in a cock­ney ac­cent came out, our feel­ing was that we wanted to be recog­nised for our play­ing and where we were pro­gress­ing to. We weren’t very happy that An­drew [Loog Old­ham, Im­me­di­ate Records co-founder] had put it out with­out our say so.”

De­spite the band’s dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with Lazy Sun­day, many peo­ple re­gard the song as an es­sen­tial part of the Og­dens al­bum’s sur­real cel­e­bra­tion of a now by­gone age.

Fifty years af­ter its re­lease, Jones con­tin­ues to have bit­ter­sweet feel­ings about the track’s clas­sic sta­tus.

“It’s not some­thing I’d like us to be re­mem­bered for. It’s not

one of my favourites.”

“It’s not some­thing I’d like us to be re­mem­bered for,” he says. “Over the years I’ve come to re­alise that ev­ery­one loves the song. It’s not one of my favourites. It was a thorn in our side but I’m stuck with it. I’ve had to go along with it, in a sense. But I do see the good side. It’s also awk­ward to play live. We used to play it with my band the Jones Gang, be­cause our bass player Rick Wil­lis wanted to bring it in, but I cringed every time. We don’t do it any more.”

Fol­low­ing on from the rel­a­tive im­me­di­acy and easy hit sta­tus of Lazy Sun­day, the band strug­gled to trans­late Og­dens on stage. At a New Year’s Eve con­cert in 1968, Mar­riott walked off stage and quit, dra­mat­i­cally cit­ing his frus­tra­tion with the band’s pop im­age. He went on to form Hum­ble Pie with Peter Framp­ton and gain the rock cred­i­bil­ity he craved.

Although Jones went on to en­joy a suc­cess­ful ca­reer with the Faces, and later with The Who, he says the Small Faces were “the most mean­ing­ful for me be­cause they were the most in­ven­tive and cre­ative band”. “I miss them every day,” he says, “I can’t get away from them be­cause I don’t want to.”

To­day Jones, the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the four-piece, is cur­rently work­ing on other projects re­lated to Og­dens’ Nut Gone Flake. For all its ec­cen­tric­i­ties, it’s a ground­break­ing record that in­flu­enced the Sex Pis­tols and Led Zep­pelin and spent six weeks at No.1 in the sum­mer of 1968. Lazy Sun­day is still ul­ti­mately the al­bum’s best­known song, part of a legacy and a group that Jones still looks back on fondly.

“They were my friends and my mu­sic bud­dies,” he re­flects. “I know the three of them are dead, but I feel their pres­ence with me and I know they want me to do this. I’m keep­ing it alive.”

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