ON THIS DATE (44 YEARS AGO)
May 24, 1968 – Small Faces: Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was a concept album by Small Faces, released on this date in May 1968. It became a number one hit in the UK Album Charts on 29 June where it remained for a total of six weeks. The album was featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In 2000 Q magazine placed Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake at number 59 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
The title and the design of the distinctive packaging was a parody of Ogdens’ Nut-brown Flake, a brand of tobacco which was produced in Liverpool from 1899.
The A-side is a mix of early heavy rock with “Song of a Baker”; psychedelic cockney knees-up songs “Lazy Sunday” and “Rene”, the opening instrumental title track (which resembles their second single “I’ve Got Mine”, which was a flop in 1965), and the soul influenced ballad “Afterglow (Of Your Love)”.
The B-side is based on an original fairy tale about a boy called Happiness Stan, narrated in his unique ‘Unwinese’ gobbledegook by Stanley Unwin, who picked up modern slang from the band and incorporated it into the surreal narrative.
Happiness Stan (Story)
When 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.
Due to the album’s complexities, Ogdens’ was never performed live, however it was performed as a whole once on the BBC’s television programme Colour Me Pop on Friday 21 June 1968. Songs featured were “Song of a Baker”, “Happiness Stan”, “Rollin’ Over”, “The Hungry Intruder”, “The Journey”, “Mad John” and “Happydaystoytown”.
The award-winning artwork for the album cover was done by Mick Swan who was a product of the sixties art school scene. Any other work by him is unknown but he is known to have worked as a fine arts tutor at Lowestoft F.E. College in 1974
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake ! ! ! ! ! (The one and only). It’s wonderful, it’s great, it’s fabulous, and it’s real ! ! ! ! ! It’s full of fairy takes and groovy afternoons, of giant kissable flies and love, and mostly lots of happiness and joy. “Brightest Selection” the front cover says and so it is, the brightest and craziest rock in too long of a time.
But to begin, a few basic facts: Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake is the name or a record manufactured by the Small Faces (from Olde England, the land of public schools and school boys, and music halls and pubs), who are totally responsible for the musical content of Ogden. The real question is: who is responsible for the packaging concept and design? The package (for that is what it can only be described as) is something for a prelude to the music inside—briefly it is a phony tobacco container, a circular one, which folds out into five circles joined together. These ten surfaces are covered with pictures of tobacco, Small Faces, and other things. It is fairly safe to assume that if one likes the package of Ogden, the music will also be liked.
The music is happy and unabashedly so, the Small Faces don’t have to make excuses or pretend to be cynical or even prophetic, happiness is enough for them. They come naturally on by magic, “wish away your worries and problems,” they seem to say and in case you need help, they’re ready and willing.
Both sides of Ogden magically transport the listener to equally worriless and problemless places: side one takes the listener through time to “Lazy Sunday” and side two takes the listener through space to “Happydaystoytown.” The second side is probably the first fairy tale recorded by a rock band. It’s about “Happiness Stan” and his quest for the lost half of the moon; he befriends a hungry fly who gratefully flies Stan to “Mad John” (after being magically changed into a giant fly). Mad John shows Stan the lost half of the moon and as an extra bonus shows him “Happydaystoytown.” In format “Happiness Stan” is very much like the Who’s “Quick One” but also has the delightful of a highly English narrator speaking in the style of John Lennon In His Own Write. “A real mindblast.”
The other side begins with “Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake,” which is a far better instrumental than I thought the Small Faces could put out, and ends with “Lazy Sunday.” It’s all real nice and truthfully freaky, a refreshing change from a lot of the “progressive” garbage we’ve been hearing recently. Everybody owes it to themselves to get this record and be refreshed. It’s surprising. (RS 19)
~ JAMES POMEROY (October 12, 1968)
1 Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake (Marriott, Lane, McLagan, Jones) 2:26
2 Afterglow (Of Your Love) (Marriott, Lane) 3:31
3 Long Agos and Worlds Apart (McLagan) 2:35
4 Rene (Marriott, Lane) 4:29
5 Song of a Baker (Marriott, Lane) 3:15
6 Lazy Sunday (Marriott, Lane) 3:05
Side two (titled “Happiness Stan”)
1 Happiness Stan (Marriott, Lane) 2:35
2 Rollin’ Over (Marriott, Lane) 2:50
3 The Hungry Intruder (Marriott, Lane, McLagan) 2:15
4 The Journey (Marriott, Lane, McLagan, Jones) 4:12
5 Mad John (Marriott, Lane) 2:48
6 Happy Days Toy Town (Marriott, Lane, McLagan) 4:17