Ogdens 50th & A Quick One with Kenney Jones

Interview: Sarge

Few musicians are lucky enough to be part of one renowned band, even fewer manage to be in two, it follows then that it’s someone very talented to have three internationally celebrated bands on their CV…

Kenney Jones, is a member of a very elite club. He spent 10 years with The Who, six years with The Faces, and along with Ronnie Lane, was a founder member of the Small Faces.

Regarded by many as the ultimate Mod band, their third studio album, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, was a ground-breaking LP when first released in 1968. And for several reasons too. T

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he first issues of the album came in a circular metal sleeve, which replicated a giant-sized (12in) version of Ogden’s Nut-Brown Flake – a tobacco brand that had been produced in the northwest of England since the late 19th century. Inside, as well as the record itself, was a poster consisting of five interconnected circles, each depicting a band member.

Although the packaging was award winning, it wasn’t cost-effective, and caused problems being displayed in record shops. The LP, in metal round packaging, often rolled off the display shelves! It was eventually replaced with a paper and card gatefold sleeve.

Ogdens’ spent six weeks at the top of the UK album charts during the summer of ‘68. A controversial parody of the Lord’s Prayer heralded the album release, which caused something of an uproar with the British media.

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Immediate records certainly ensured the album release gained maximum publicity! Arguably Ogdens’ was the first (psychedelic, proto-progressive), rock concept album, as side two is based upon a fairytale story of the boy Happiness Stan and his mission to find the missing half of the moon.

To celebrate the golden jubilee of Ogdens’ release, a box set in both vinyl and CD was released in October, and we caught up with the surviving member of Small Faces, Kenney Jones, for a ‘quick one’…

Ogdens’ 50th Anniversary is upon us, 50 years ago it marked a different direction musically for Small Faces, what are your memories of how Odgens came about?

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When Ogdens’ came out in May 1968, we’d been working on it for 12 months or so. In fact, Ogdens didn’t take anything like a year to record.

We had a bit of an extended run in the studio during February, other than that it was very much a case of finding days here and there, in between tours, gigs, TV and radio commitments. If we’d not had so many hit singles I reckon we’d have recorded Ogdens’ in about three weeks.

We were trying to shake off that teenybopper image that we felt we’d been saddled with. We parted with Don Arden and went to Immediate, with Andrew Loog Oldham, who was the Rolling Stones’ manager at the time.

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Immediate was like the Virgin records of its time. What we needed was studio time, which he gave us lots of, and that gave us the opportunity to be creative. We were extremely lucky to work with Glyn Johns, who was an engineer at the time, a wonderful guy, he made Ogdens’ sound like it did.

The best drum sounds I’ve ever had are on Ogdens’; he always gave me a big sound. I once asked Glyn what effects he’d used (on Ogdens’).

He said ‘none, I record the way you sound, one mic over the top and a couple of things close mic’ed. It was miles apart from our first two albums; it was different musically, we had the concept on side two, telling the story of the little guy searching for the other half of the moon.

Ogdens’ really was a very artistic piece of work, trouble was, we thought, how are we going to follow this? It was, in that respect, another nail in the coffin. On Ogdens’ you can hear it’s a real band firing on all cylinders. Great dynamics and everyone equal in their musicianship.

Ogdens’ has been reissued several times, how does the 50th-anniversary box set differ from previous releases?

I renegotiated the Small Faces back catalogue, I’ve got joint artistic control, which allows me a lot of input, Rob Caiger helped immensely. W

ith the technology available today it’s allowed everything to be remastered, but staying true to the original, without making it sound if it was recorded last week. With the technology, everything has a brighter sound, for instance, Ronnie’s bass.

I think it’s important for this 50th-anniversary release to be different to any of the previous releases of Ogdens’. We’ve cleaned up previously unissued tracks, versions and takes from the original master tapes, on a separate disc, as well as stereo and mono versions of Ogdens’. It’s not just cashing in.

The vinyl format box set is on separately coloured 180g vinyl, which was re-cut at half speed making the whole sound more defined, more powerful and more of a full experience. Packaging is equally important, the CD and DVD box set comes in a 12in x 12in hardback book, with 70 pages containing rare photographs, reproductions of artwork and lots of other related information.

We never played Ogdens’ in its entirety live; we’d already taken the decision to stop touring. The DVD has seven tracks (from Ogdens’), which were broadcast on the Colour Me Pop, late night BBC television programme. We didn’t even play them live, BBC policy at the time was to mime, which we did.

Stanley Irwin came with us for that recording. We wanted him in a wizard’s hat, like Merlin, but BBC props only had a king’s crown, which he wore.

Like the album itself, that old television footage has been remastered using the most up to date technology. As well as the Colour Me Pop film, there’s the Immediate records promotional film for Lazy Sunday, the ‘neighbours’ banging on the walls were my aunt and uncle. The line that goes ‘Hello Mrs Jones, how’s old Bert’s lumbago’ refers to my aunt and uncle too.

Have you any future plans for Ogdens’ or anything related to Ogdens’ planned?

Right from the beginning, I’ve thought that Ogdens’ should be an animated film, which is something I’m seriously looking at creating. I’m also looking at a classical music version of Ogdens’ which I will be touring!

Do you have any regrets that you never played Ogdens’ live?

I regret us splitting up. I’d like to think to think if we hadn’t split up we could have reworked Ogdens’ and toured it in its entirety.

Finally, last time we spoke, which was a while ago now, you bought your Vespa scooter along to the BBC building in West London. Have you still got your Vespa?

Sadly not any longer. A few years back, just before I went to the US on tour, my scooter needed a bit of looking at, for a service, and a respray. A while after I came back after touring, I realised I’d not got my scooter back. I made a few enquiries as to what had happened and I found out where it had gone to for a service and spray job went bust. So that was that for my Vespa.

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