Small Faces – Steve Marriot, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan
Listen – Small Faces – All or Nothing – MP3
The tune I bring you today has been a serious favorite of mine since the first time I heard it over 20 years ago.
Though I was a major Beatle-nut as a kid, it wasn’t until my involvement with the garage/mod revival in the mid-80s that I was introduced to the R&B/mod side of the Beat boom. The toughest of all the bands, and perhaps the truest “mods” in the lot were the mighty Small Faces.
I was certainly acquainted with the Kinks and the Who (both of whom went on to be huge during the classic rock FM radio years of my teens), that the Small Faces were known to me at all was by virtue of the fact that they went on to form Humble Pie (a band my high school pals and I were rather fond of) and the Faces.
Needless to say, I had a lot to learn, because as much as I still like both of those bands today, neither one of them can hold a candle to the Small Faces.
Formed in London in 1965 by Steve Marriott (guitar/vocals, who’d been a child actor), Ronnie Lane (bass guitar), Kenney Jones (drums) and Jimmy Winston (organ). The group had their first hit that year with ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ (Top 20 in the UK). The Small Faces absorbed (and reflected in their sound) more of a soul/R&B influence than any of their contemporaries*.
Winston was replaced later in 1965 by Ian McLagan and would go on to record one of the truly great freakbeat 45s (‘Real Crazy Apartment’) as the leader of Winston’s Fumbs.
The Small Faces went on to have a number of UK chart hits, and ‘All or Nothing’ was their biggest, hitting Number One in 1966.
The tune is one of the great lost love/break up songs but eschews maudlin sentiment, choosing instead to be an anthem of defiance. The first time I heard ‘All or Nothing’ was not on a record but rather via a bootleg video of the Small Faces performing the song live on German TV. I absolutely fell in love with the song and still see it today as the peak of the band’s Decca years (which would end shortly with their move to Immediate).
If you’re not familiar with the band’s early years you need to grab one of the reissues of their Decca recordings, which are a revelation. They were truly one of the toughest bands of their time and the bigger stateside hits of their contemporaries, along with the success of the Small Faces’ later bands have conspired to keep their first recordings hidden from a lot of people.
I hope you dig the tune.
*I would include the Action in that equation
**If anyone has a copy of ‘Real Crazy Apartment’ that they want to part with, drop me a line.