In the wake of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, when the notion of the concept album was taking hold, the Small Faces decided to weigh in with one of their own. Following an Australian tour where they opened for the Who, Steve Marriott and the boys returned to England to work on their third, and what would become their most famous, album, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, which stayed at number one for six weeks in the UK while going largely unnoticed in the US, like everything else they did except the single “Itchycoo Park.”
The story goes that while working on songs for the album they rented some old boats and went cruising the Thames, drinking, playing guitars, and occasionally ramming other boats on account of the drinking and the fact that none of them had ever piloted a boat before. One night, deep into their cups, Ronnie Lane looked up in a daze at a half moon and said, “Where’s the other half?” Thus was born The Story of Happiness Stan, a semi-psychedelic fairy tale that makes up the second half of the album. It’s about a boy who falls in love with the moon only to be distraught when it slowly begins to disappear.
Now they weren’t sure if the songs alone would convey the story, so they brought in the British comedian Stanley Unwin to add narration in this silly, corrupted version of English he had created and which he employed to great effect to connect the songs. But as you’ll notice, I substituted different songs here and there wherever I found a good segue. One example of that is the opening of the track “Rolling Over,” where Steve Marriott stole from Jimi Hendrix the lick to “Foxy Lady” and used it as the basis for his own tune, well you can just imagine how we take advantage there. All that and The Story of Happiness Stan makes today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl a fine value which is to say it’s thriftymost on your banky balancer. Just listen to this.
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happiness Stan|
|James Taylor||Taking It In|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Rolling Over|
|Jimi Hendrix||Foxy Lady|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to The Journey|
|Chicago||To Be Free/Now More Than Ever/Make Me Smile|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to & Mad John|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happy Days Toy Town|
|Elton John||Your Starter For…|
|Small Faces||Lazy Sunday Afternoon|
|Shawn Phillips||Do You Wonder?|
|Small Faces (Stanley Unwin)||Intro to Happiness Stan (repeated)|
I suspect that’s an album Lewis Carroll would have enjoyed. We’ve been listening to bits and pieces of The Small Faces classic, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake with the British comedian Stanley Unwin, narrating The Story of Happiness Stan which I corrupted completely to suit my own needs. Unwin made a career out of his corruption of the English language which came to be known as Unwinese. He died at the ripe old age of 91 but you can hear more of his ‘basic Engly twentyfido’ at Stanley-unwin.com. At the end of the set we heard “Lazy Sunday” which was actually from side one of Nut Brown Flake and not part of the concept side of the album. It was written by Steve Marriott as a joke because he was always getting thrown out of apartments after neighbors complained about all the noise he made. The record label released it as a single despite Marriott’s objections that it was a novelty song. The fact that it went straight to number two on the British charts didn’t matter to him either. He felt it would keep people from taking his music seriously.
The brief instrumental before that was from Elton John’s album Blue Moves. And in the middle of the set we took Chicago’s “Make Me Smile” and turned it inside out, starting with the end of the song, and ending with the beginning which you can do only if you have two copies of the album. We also heard “Foxy Lady” just to show how much of the song Steve Marriott nicked for his tune, “Rolling Over.” And at the top we heard “Taking It In” from James Taylor’s second album, taking advantage of the harp it had in common with the one on Nut Gone Flake.
So goodly byeload loyal peeplisteners, now all gatherymost in the Way Back Studios, to amuse it and have a tilty elbow or a nice cuffle. And feel free to drop by billfitzhugh.com if you’re looking for the set lists, show commentaries, or the other half of the moon. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Joy of the Deep Tracks.