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SMALL FACES TALK TO YOU:
THE STORY OF THE SMALL FACES IN THEIR OWN WORDS


by Kent H. Benjamin, Ken Sharp, and John Hellier

Link to the chapters:

Reunions

REUNIONS

KENNEY JONES: There have been moments, even in the reformation of the Small Faces, which should never have happened, where we played great -- the jamming we did and all that stuff. The songs weren't that good because they weren't there, because we were trying too hard, basically. The chemistry still existed, but we should have stopped it the second time.

KEN SHARP: What prompted the band to get back together in 1978, and why did Ronnie opt out? That video with Ronnie still in the band....

IAN MCLAGAN: Andrew and fucking Tony Calder....it's a long tangled tale over the rights to those songs. It was really sort of a shuffle from one hand to another. In 1976 or so they were with a company that was gonna release "Itchycoo Park" again, and it was going up the charts, and they contacted Kenney or Ronnie or someone, and asked us if we'd get back together for a video for the song, and promised us some figure -- $10,000 each or something, if we'd do it. And do one live show and they could film it and record it and release it. 'Cause we weren't too keen to get together. So we got together to do the video and he never fucking paid us, and it hit the charts again. So we were pissed off with him double! But we did get back together again, and then the first day of that, Ronnie got stroppy and said "fuck this!" and so he was booted out of the group.

KEN SHARP: Why do you think he didn't want to do it? Old wounds?

IAN MCLAGAN: Yeah, probably. And then I started writing with Steve, and we got Rick Wills in on bass, and we had nothin' else to do at the time, and it wasn't.....

RONNIE LANE: They tried to get me! I dunno, I find Steve Marriott kinda hard to take in my old age, my boring old fart age! I really wouldn't go out of my way to talk to him. I don't know what's going on in his mind -- I really don't.

STEVE MARRIOTT: I think Ronnie tried to explain to me once that he didn't get involved in Small Faces Mk. II because he didn't like the idea of it at the time, and also, he'd just found out he had MS or something (ed. note: Ronnie was stricken with MS -- Multiple Sclerosis -- in about 1977), and was still trying to come to terms with it. 'Cos in the studio, Ronnie kept falling over, and I couldn't work it out and got angry with him. I thought he was drunk, but I don't think he was, thinking about it. He was trying to sing, and he'd sway and fall. But he did have a bottle of brandy, too. If he'd told me then I would have been alot more sympathetic towards why, instead of being annoyed.

KEN SHARP: What do you think of the albums, Playmates and 78 in the Shade?

IAN MCLAGAN: There's a couple of my songs that got ruined. "Darling This Song's Just for You" is a little country song I wrote for Kim (ed. note: Kim Moon, ex-wife of Keith Moon, now McLagan's wife of about twenty years) -- we weren't living together then. It was a little country song and Steve just fucked with it -- fucked with the words. Good album covers, but I've never listened to them.

STEVE MARRIOTT: "Lonely No More" is with Ronnie playing bass on it, just that one track with the four of us. Ronnie had left. I stayed up all night to edit it, to make it twice the length it was because it was only a minute and a half, so I edited the back track together so it went on for about three minutes, and then we worked on it. It's really good, and we wanted to put it out as a single -- that's how good we thought it was.

KEN SHARP: What was the tour like?

IAN MCLAGAN: Steve was into his post-punk spitting at the audience phase, which was kind of tragic. And here we were doing "Itchycoo Park" again (sings) "It's all too beautiful," and I hated it. After the Faces it was like going backwards. We did "All or Nothing," "Tin Soldier." Even if Ronnie had stayed, you couldn't have saved that project. It was a train wreck. It was awful. It was a rotten idea.

JODY DENBERG: There was one more project that never did get off the ground, something of a Small Faces reunion with Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane in 1981; what happened?

RONNIE LANE: Oh yeah, Magic Midgets! That was just a kick-around. I still had my mobile studio, and Steve wanted to do something. I had nothing to do, I'd just had this attack, and in my mind I was crawling up the wall, so it gave me something to do. I was a no-go as far as the record industry was concerned because of my MS, and they didn't want Steve either, so it never came out. The punk attitude was that everything that came out before was rubbish, so I did a song to kind of say "...who are you to disrespect your elders? What have you done?" We recorded a bunch of songs, but nothing ever came of it.

STEVE MARRIOTT: We had another stab at it in 1981 when me and Ronnie did another album, but it wasn't released. Ronnie's mind is over active, but physically he's knackered -- but he can still write. The way he writes is to tell you something, you know, do this, do that, play that chord with these words. He can still do it. (The Magic Midgets album) was done in Loughton at the Corbett Theatre in 1981. We hired the theatre and took Ronnie's mobile studio down there. It was alright. Ronnie was singing, I was singing, played some keyboards and guitar, wrote some songs. Jimmy Leverton was on it, Dave Hines was the drummer. We done some good stuff, but I don't think Ronnie really wants it released. Took it to everybody nigh on. But they couldn't see what we could do. Took it to Arista, CBS, Virgin, A&M, Atco. We thought Keith Richards was going to buy it, but at the last minute he said no as well. Don Arden might have taken it on Jet, but I don't think any of us wanted to go that route. I've got copy tapes, but I haven't got the master tapes. Ronnie's got them. It was alright. We're pleased with it, but not a lot of people know we did it.

IAN MCLAGAN: We're gonna reform the Faces this year! That relates because I'm hoping that will be really good. Me and Kenney have been working on it for some time. Rod's up for it! Woody's definitely up for it!

KEN SHARP: Who's gonna be on bass? Tetsu?

IAN MCLAGAN: No way! No way! I don't know. I want Carmine Rojas, Rod's bass player. He's a very good bass player, he plays Ronnie Lane lines, he'll help Kenney a lot, and he'll give confidence to Rod. I know Rod has a feeling he wants somebody famous in, knowing it will help.

KEN SHARP: Does Ronnie give his blessing to it?

IAN MCLAGAN: Oh yeah, I haven't spoken to him since Christmas...but he'll be there, we'll fly him in for it. He's gotta be there, the Faces ain't complete without -- can't do it without him! But I don't know, I want Carmine. I know Rod's keen on Bill Wyman. I like Bill alot; Bill would probably do it, he played with us once before when we did it. But anyone who plays with the Faces had better play Ronnie Lane. Bill could do it but I want him to play Ronnie Lane. What we'd like to do is an 8-week tour this summer, and maybe 3-4 gigs in England. We did a "secret Faces reunion" in Dublin in December at the end of one of Rod's gigs, all of us, and it was good really. We're movin' ahead, I really want to do it. The way I look at it, everyone's a millionaire except me and Ronnie, and it wouldn't make us millionaires, but it would be a good chunk of change for both of us. I don't expect to get the whole 15 million, but a couple of million apiece would be good, you know! [Rod Stewart bailed on the Faces reunion at the last minute. Since Ronnie Lane died, he's used Ronnie's absence as an excuse not to do it, never mind that he had the opportunity to do a two week tour that could've put some real cash in Ronnie's pockets while he was still alive. Reality seems to be he can't handle the idea of being part of a band of equals again.]

STEVE MARRIOTT: Frankly records never earnt me any money anyway, they were just a giggle, and let's face it, you've got to live. So that's why I'm playing live as much as I can. Records had never been me living, so I don't worry about it. Someone got the fucking money, but I didn't. So who cares?!!


Copyright April 1996, Kent Benjamin, Ken Sharp, John Hellier, Austin, TX/Philadelphia PA. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written permission of the copyright holders. Reproduced on www.ianmclagan.com with permission.


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