Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n10)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: May 14, 2010
SMALL FACES-ALL OR NOTHING - DVD
The same people who have been putting out the Jazz Icons series of DVDs (previously reviewed here and picked as part of the top 20 releases of the last decade) have now begun to turn their attention to the British Invasion. And, not surprisingly, they have begun to put together some superb offerings. All Or Nothing is one of four DVDs in their first set documenting British groups from the sixties. The other three feature Dusty Springfield, Gerry & The Pacemakers, and Herman's Hermits. The Springfield DVD is also great, but the latter two groups, although purveyors of numerous hits in the mid-sixties, were never really standout live performers, with the DVDs suffering accordingly. The same is certainly not true for the Small Faces and this DVD. In fact, almost the reverse is true. The group, while huge in England, never toured the U.S. and had only one stateside hit to their name ("Itchycoo Park"). As is evident from this DVD, however, they were one of the most dynamic and riveting live acts of their time. The band was led by guitarist-singer-songwriter Steve Marriott (later of Humble Pie) and bassist-singer-songwriter Ronnie Lane, and also consisted of drummer Kenny Jones and keyboardist Ian McLagan (the latter three went on to become The Faces when Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined after Marriott left the band). Small Faces took their moniker because "face" meant sharp-dresser, and the band were all into the clothes-horse culture of the sixties mods, along with the fact that none of the band stood over 5'6" tall. Their sound was largely an amalgam of melodic, Beatle-esque pop combined with the grittier sounds of Stax and sixties soul and R & B. Marriott's voice was a perfect vehicle for this, oozing both grit and sweetness (somewhat akin to Steve Winwood's voice in his "I'm A Man" days). As with the Jazz Icons series, the "talking heads" portion of the DVD is minimal, with almost all of the running time given to 27 complete, archival performances (most live, some lip-synched). Watching these, it is apparent that America largely missed out on a great band. Songs like "All Or Nothing," with its sweet verse and soul-shouting chorus resolving into a delicate guitar-line, is simply one of the best songs of the decade (it was their first #1 in England). "Tin Soldier" was a multi-part, brilliantly written epic. "I Can't Make It" and "My Way Of Giving" were excellent white-soul songs, while "Here Comes The Nice," "Itchycoo Park," and a variety of selections form their Ogden's Nut Gone Flake LP document their take on psychedelia. But it is the band's live dynamism that makes All Or Nothing so compelling. Simply put, Marriott was one of the best front men of his time. Careening around the stage with both charisma and nonchalance, he seems a natural-born performer. Dancing up to the mic, legs and feet moving flawlessly along the floor, arms flailing on the guitar, and with a look that screamed "rock star" before the term had even been coined, you simply can't take your eyes off of him. One clip even shows Pete Townshend and Keith Moon looking on, with Moon seeming to be having the time of his life. Speaking as one old enough to have grown up through the sixties and also one who paid close attention to the music scene at the time, this DVD was a revelation to me given the Small Faces' relatively low profile among the British Invasion bands. Simply put, they were one of the best bands of the sixties, as All Or Nothing so ably documents.
JAY FARRAR/BENJAMIN GIBBARD-ONE FAST MOVE OR I'M GONE
One Fast Move. . . was written as musical accompaniment to a documentary on Jack Kerouac's time at Big Sur, which came after his fame for writing On The Road. Farrar (who wrote the majority of the songs here) and Gibbard incorporated words from Kerouac's own writings in the songs, somewhat akin to the approach Wilco and Billy Bragg took in putting together the two Mermaid Avenue CDs. Farrar, from Son Volt and, formerly, Uncle Tupelo, may seem to be an unlikely collaborator with Death Cab For Cutie's Gibbard, but the synthesis they weave here is a near flawless combination of alt-country and Gibbard's more straightforward pop-rock leanings. At times, One Fast Move. . . conjures up visions of an indie-rock Eagles. Organs, pedal steels, brushed snares, and plenty of acoustic guitars decorate the melodic offerings on tap, with the title song and "Going To Cali" just two of the standout tracks.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com