In the current issue of Uncut – in shops now, or available to order online by clicking here – we tell the full story of Small Faces’ playful, psychedelic 1968 album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake: the bands’ crowning glory but also the album that hastened their demise.
Inspired by LSD, The Sufi Message and a boating trip to Berkshire, Ogdens’ found the Small Faces exploring numerous worlds. There was the soul influence on “Afterglow”, the psych-pop whimsy of “The Journey”, the spiritual exploration of “Song Of A Baker”, while “Rene”, and “Happydaystoytown” and “Lazy Sunday” brought a musical hall quality to psychedelic rock. Drummer Kenney Jones instigated the title track, a distorted instrumental. “The LP title inspired me to come up with that song,” he says. “Because I couldn’t write out the melody, I had to hum the tune to the band and they then wrote into my song.”
But what made Ogdens’ unique was the second side – a carefully linked suite of six songs that told the story of Happiness Stan as he meets various insects in his search for the moon. The songs were connected by a gobbledygook narrative from Stanley Unwin, who took some of the band’s catchphrases and converted them into his own strange language. Happiness Stan still inspires Kenney Jones, who wants to make an animated film. This will conclude something that began during the sessions at Olympic. “Towards the end of the recording I went up to Ronnie and Mac when they were deep in conversation and said, ‘This would make a great cartoon,’” he says. “They looked at me for a second and then just carried on with what they were talking about. I was like, ‘Fuck, I can’t get through to anyone!’ But I know I would have got through eventually.”
So what went wrong? The turning point might have been the counter-intuitive choice of single to launch the album. Instead of a song more representative of the album’s psychedelic intentions, Immediate released “Lazy Sunday”. A hit, nonetheless, but one that rankled with the band.
“We wanted to make heavier stuff, and we’d made this great album and then we had this rinky-dink thing in the charts,” says Jones. “Do I like that song? No, I can’t fucking stand it. Well, I have to like it because it is part of the Small Faces’ history… There were a few songs that we were getting out our system. But Andrew [Loog Oldham, boss of their Immediate label] had a habit of going into Olympic [Studios] when we were away. I can picture him now in his green mohair suit looking fucking great, genuinely, and asking Glyn [Johns, producer] if he could listen to what we’d been doing.”
According to Jones, they only realised “Lazy Sunday” had been released when Marriott saw the chart in a music paper: “It was a nail in the coffin, because we were desperately trying to lose that image. We were aware of what The Beatles were doing and we felt that songs like ‘Lazy Sunday’ pushed us backwards. It got to Steve more than the others. We didn’t realise that this was getting to him so much, he was putting another band together. He felt he’d never get away from this image unless he got away from the band.”
Jones still seems nonplussed that the band dissolved precisely when they should have been basking in the success of their most acclaimed LP. “We all still got on,” he insists. “Even when Steve brought it to a rotten end, walking off-stage. He explained after that he’d to get away and move on. But I wish he’d talked to us at the time.”
Read much more about the making of Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake in the latest issue of Uncut, out now with Bob Dylan on the cover.
The December 2018 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Bob Dylan on the cover. The issue also comes with a unique 12-track Bob Dylan CD, The Best Of The Bootleg Series, featuring an exclusive track from Dylan’s latest boxset. Elsewhere in the issue you’ll find exclusive features on the Small Faces, Jeff Tweedy, the Psychedelic Furs, Moses Sumney, Sister Sledge, Jeff Goldblum, Marianne Fathfull, Ty Segall, Roger Daltrey, Klaus Voormann and many more.