If it had been a school homework project to write a song about a typically British Sunday afternoon in the late 1960s it’s unlikely that the Small Faces would have come top of their class.
Here was the band who had got away with murder not having Here Comes The Nice banned for its drugs overtones and then frolicked through Itchycoo Park with its experimental “flange” phasing and psychedelic references, suddenly taking on a Music Hall identity and presenting us with one of the oddest lines in British rock/pop.
Well, it’s not every day you get landed with “Gor blimey, hello Mrs. Jones, how’s old Bert’s lumbago? (he mustn’t grumble)” or words to that effect.
In the dry tones of a lyrical analysis Lazy Sunday has “a traditional cockney East End of London Music Hall sound.” But there’s clearly more to it than that.
OGDENS’ NUT GONE FLAKE
It was written by the Small Faces songwriting duo Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, and appeared on the band’s 1968 concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake which it preceded as a successful single. It reached number two in April 1968, despite being released against the band’s wishes because, they claim, it was recorded as a joke rather than as a chart contender.
And there’s more. The song was actually inspired by Marriott’s feuds with his neighbours – hence:
“Wouldn’t it be nice to get on wiv me neighbours (da da da do)
But they make it very clear they’ve got no room for ravers.
They stop me from groovin’, they bang on me wall
They’re doin’ me crust in – it’s no good at all.”
It’s also noticeable for its distinct vocal changes. Marriott sings large parts of the song in a greatly exaggerated cockney accent – almost as if he’s auditioning for the role of the Artful Dodger in Oliver!
It seems he did this partly due to an argument he had with The Hollies, who said that Marriott had never sung in his own accent (well, they were from Manchester weren’t they?).
In the final bridge and the last two choruses, he reverts to his usual transatlantic influenced singing accent.
Ironically some time later John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) cited the Small Faces as one of his few influences as vocalist for the Sex Pistols.
According to Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Lane’s “rooty dooty di” (well actually: “Root-de-doo-de-doo, a-root-de-doot-de-doy-di, A-root-de-doot-de-dum, a-ree-de-dee-de-doo-dee (doo-doo, doo-doo”) vocal lines were in imitation of a member of the Who’s road crew. The two bands had recently toured Australia together – a tour later blamed as sowing the seeds of the Small Faces sudden disintegration.
A low-budget promotional video for Lazy Sunday was filmed at drummer Kenney Jones’ parents’ home in Stepney, East London and features his next door neighbour pretending to strangle Marriott.
And like all good jokes it was adapted by others. The song was later covered by the Toy Dolls as on their 1995 album Orcastrated; The London-based indie rock/garage revival band The Libertines covered the song in 2003 as part of the soundtrack to British film Blackball; Leeds-based indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs covered the song on French radio in 2008 and Jack Wild recorded a version of the song for his first studio album The Jack Wild Album.
The group was founded in 1965 by Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston, although by 1966 Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan as the band’s keyboardist.
The band became one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s gradually evolving from r&b covers to hook laden pop and eventually psychedelia.
Their last original hit was in in 1969 although Itchycoo Park re-charted in 1975 and Lazy Sunday re-emerged in 1976.
The Small Faces never actually disbanded; when Marriott, who wanted to shed his pop star image, left to form Humble Pie, the remaining three members recruited Ronnie Wood as guitarist, and Rod Stewart as their lead vocalist, both from The Jeff Beck Group, and carried on as The Faces.
The original Small Faces lived on in spirit – they were one of the biggest musical influences on the Britpop movement of the 1990s. Despite the fact the band were together for just four years in their original incarnation, their music output from the mid to late sixties remains among the most acclaimed British mod and psychedelic music of that era. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
Sadly Ronnie Lane died in 1997, Steve Marriott died in 1991) and Ian McLagan died in 2014.
|Steve Marriot, Ronnie Lane
|Steve Marriot, Ronnie Lane
|Psychedelic pop, music hall
|EMI (UK) Immediate
|5 April 1968
|The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs