World’s Worst Records – The Small Faces


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#102: The Small Faces – 78 In The Shade (1978)

MATT KELLY is aghast at how far this formerly great band had fallen by the time of its reunion albums and explains their sad demise.

After the first tepid Small Faces reunion album Playmates was utterly ignored, you’d think they’d learn their lesson and record something with spirit to get the old fanbase going. Instead, they do the strange (but hardly unique) manoeuvre of following an unsuccessful album with another in the same style only more so, and then act surprised when it doesn’t work.

At its worst, this is wretched, a deeply depressing glimpse of a band carrying on despite the magic clearly being gone. This contains what are easily the Small Faces’ worst songs, from the horrific garish disco rock of ‘Over Too Soon’ to ‘Brown Man Do’, with its lyrics acknowledging the work of people of colour that are well-intentioned but awkward at best. The song is further undone by a pathetic vocal performance from Marriott, who sounds like a shadow of his former self. And his songwriting, good heavens. ‘Stand By Me’ (an original, not the Ben E King classic) has a horrendously cheesy chorus that is like water torture.


It’s pure syrup. We may as well be listening to The Osmonds.

The album deservedly flopped and with no money being made, the new Small Faces called it here. Further reunion activity was made unlikely by Marriott withdrawing from the music industry. Despite his earlier success, he entered the ’80s bankrupt due to dodgy contracts and managers. At one point he had to steal food, sell his home and flee the UK when creditors came calling for 100k he did not have.

Marriott mostly stuck to playing live gigs under his own management for the rest of his life until he died in a house fire aged 44. Lane could not have reformed the Small Faces even if he wanted to, his multiple sclerosis cruelly robbing him of the ability to perform as it progressed until it killed him in 1997. Lane was also broke due to legal battles over Small Faces royalties meaning none came to him, though touchingly, former bandmates Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood contributed thousands of pounds to his medical bills over the years.

78 In The Shade is a great example of “careful what you wish for” in music, as the Small Faces attempt to rectify their premature end only to embarrass themselves and any fans who stuck with them. Sad.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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