Thursday, July 2, 2009

Of Don Arden Cash In's And Westmoreland Terrace Hashish Sessions

THE SMALL FACES-Patterns/ E Too D German Decca DL 25297 1966

The Small Faces history is well documented so I won't bore you or waste your time trying to recap things because there are people and books far better qualified to tell you all about it. To give you a little background the 45 we're talking about here comes at a time period where the band had left Decca records and the clutches of the evil Don Arden and moved out to the hip label Immediate and the business naive but hip speaking/dope smoking Andrew "Loog" Oldham.
Never one to pass up un-used material Arden and the folks at Decca set about plundering the vaults to try to cash in on the charges after they'd moved on to greener pastures (witness similar earlier events with The Who where Brunswick, a Decca imprint, were milking their "My Generation" LP for tracks for 45's after the band had jumped ship to Robert Stigwood's hip new label, Reaction).

Released in the U.K. as Decca F12619 on the 26th of May 1967, "Patterns/E Too D" is a curious piece of Small Faces history. As documented in many places we've all read of how the band's members Steve, Ronnie and Mac all shared an apartment @ 22 Westmoreland Terrace in London's Pimlico neighborhood where countless hours of hash smoking and music listening were done (or so I've read I'd just been born on the other side of the ocean so I wasn't there!). The band's hash use no doubt provided a certain source of inspiration. "Patterns" is no exception. It is perhaps a demo or an unfinished track that lay un-issued in Decca's hands(much like the trippy way out "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" more on that tracks source a bit later). It's a duet of sorts between Steve and Ronnie, fairly musically sparse just bass, guitar, drums and some faint organ (Hammond fan that I am I 've always found that the organ was too low in the Decca era S.F.'s mixes). Regardless of whether it's a "demo" or a throwaway track it's still enjoyable and I'm sure the lyrics possibly were influenced by altered states where (I'm told) people notice the details of things more clearly than they normally would. "E Too D" of course was already released on their debut Decca LP LK4790 exactly a year earlier. I've never owned a copy of the U.K. 45 but the German version we've got here sounds like a slightly different mix. "E Too D" is one of those classic S.F.'s ravers that was probably born out of onstage improvisation. Here's some '66 vintage Small Faces live at the Marquee to give you an idea of what I'm on about:

It was on my very first S.F's LP, a terrible cash in LP called "By Appointment" that I bought in the spring of 1982 (the same day I purchased tickets for my very first and last Jam concert) where it was mis-titled "Running Wild". I was struck then and still am now by the groovy near demonic chanting that goes on in the background "da da da da... etc"(Ronnie and Mac I assume?) while Steve belts out the blues of lyrical self reflection ("sometimes I look inside me and I don't like what I see.."). All of which leads to a musical climax as the band raves up while Steve begins repeating, like a bad trip or drug induced paranoia "See those colours, hear those voices, what's those voices, I can't take any more voices". Of course brilliant as both sides were the record stiffed and did not chart because by now the band were in the Immediate camp. The fact that it sold so poorly makes it the most collectible of all Decca S.F.'s singles. European copies (like this one with the ever cool picture sleeves) are equally elusive. The Decca VS Immediate war was heating up. Less than a week after this singles release on June 2, 1967 Decca would issue "From The Beginning" LK4879, a compilation album of previously released and unreleased tracks (among the latter were a Jimmy Winston sung version of "Baby Don't Do It", an amazing version of Booker T's "Plum Nellie", the aforementioned Ronnie Lane trip-out "Yesterday Today And Tomorrow" and his equally mind blowing and sadly prophetic "That Man"). This was no doubt a cash in response as had Immediate issued the band's 2nd LP (and untitled) masterpiece as IMSP 008. But that, as they say is another story for another day.


"E Too D" for your listening pleasure:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nSPa7rqeGg

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