Friday, January 20, 2017

More U.K. Tracks On U.S. Labels: The Small Faces And Mac's Debut

THE SMALL FACES-Sha-La-La-La-Lee/Grow Your Own US Press 45 PRE 9826 1966

The Small Faces 60's US discography is an interesting mix of labels with 14 singles scattered across 3 different labels (Press, RCA and finally Immediate).  Their first 45 "Whatcha Gonna Do About It' was issued here on Press who opted to skip their second UK 7" "I've Got Mine" and picked up with their third "Sha La La La Lee" which is the subject of today's post.

 "Ready Steady Go" November 12, 1965

Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan was always dismissive of "Sha La La La Lee" which was foist on the band by manager Don Arden after their self composed second single "I've Got Mine" failed to chart. It was McLagan's debut with the band and came via the pen of Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman.  And much to the band's dismay Lynch insisted on providing backing vocals (it's his high voice you hear on the "sha la la la la la lee" chorus).  Over the years I've grown to dislike the number, pretty much 100% because of the irritating backing vocals which I now know were NOT my heroes voices and also, because as Ian McLagan stated on many occasions, it was not who the band were.

Mac's first photo session with the band November 1965

Who the band were was exactly exemplified in my mind on the B-side with the instrumental "Grow Your Own", composed by all four members (this US pressing spells McLagan as "McLagen"). It's what an old girlfriend of mine many moons ago aptly described as "another Small Faces piss take instrumental".  Whether she meant that as a term of endearment or criticism I was never sure. For me it's the former and what set the group apart from the twee material Arden was forcing them to record. "Grow You Own" is Booker T and The MG's interpreted by a bunch of amphetamine fueled, edgy, angst ridden mod teens. One of my main beefs with a lot of the band's Decca material is the organ is often inaudible in the mix (like the A-side's lame follow up "Hey Girl" and quite a few tracks on their debut album) and tracks like this B-side gave us a chance to hear what they were like given the chance to cut loose as McLasgan explores his Hammond and Marriott bashes out Steve Cropper licks at maximum volume on a Gretsch while Lane and Jones hold down the low end.

Both tracks are available on the Decca 2 CD repackaging of their debut (untitled) Decca LP.

Hear "Grow Your Own":

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