Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Faces

I borrowed Ogdens Nut Gone Flake from the library this week, because keeps recommending the Small Faces to me, and I only knew a couple of songs by them ("Itchykoo Park" and "Song of a Baker"). The latter song is the centerpiece of Ogdens, which has to be one of the strangest hit albums ever! I thought the Small Faces were more of an R&B/soul band, but most of the album is made up of a psychedelic fairytale about someone called Happiness Stan, that I looked up on wikipedia to see what it was about. After reading this, I'm even more confused!
When Happiness Stan looks up in the sky and sees only half the moon, he sets out on a quest to search for the missing half. Along the way he saves a fly from starvation, and in gratitude the insect tells him of someone who can answer his question and also tell him the philosophy of life itself. With his magic power Stan intones, "If all the flies were one fly, what a great enormous fly-follolloper that would bold," and the fly grows to gigantic proportions. Seated on the giant fly's back Stan takes a psychedelic journey to the cave of Mad John the hermit, who explains that the moon's disappearance is only temporary, and demonstrates by pointing out that Stan has spent so long on his quest that the moon is now full again. He then sings Stan a cheerful song about the meaning of life

Parts of Ogdens remind me a lot of the Dukes of Stratosphear, and was probably the main inspiration for Sir John Johns and the guys. Like the Dukes, the Small Faces never performed most of these songs live, but The Playbox Theatre in Warwick, England will be performing a theatrical version of "Ogdens Nut Gone Flake" in November, with music by the Small Fakers (a Small Faces tribute band). Here's the first part of "Happiness Stan" as performed (and mimed) in colour on Colour Me Pop in the summer of 1968.

The rest of the program is here, here, and here.

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