THE SMALL FACES - Here Come The Nice (2014)
In the works for years, the Small Faces 2014 box set Here Come the Nice is unapologetically one for the devoted. Spanning four discs, the first containing newly remastered Immediate mono single mixes from the original masters, the rest rounding up tracking sessions, alternate mixes, backing tracks, Italian versions, live cuts, and other assorted ephemera, the box's allure lies in its packaging and not its music. Disregard the many attractive tchotchkes added to this set – all the autographs, poster replicas, hardbound books, and photos that are indeed handsome – and concentrate on the music and the contents are, if not necessarily thin gruel, not quite robust. Compared to the Faces' Five Guys Walk Into a Bar, another box set heavy on rarities and live performances, Here Come the Nice isn't designed to convert skeptics. Five Guys told a story, but this is merely a deep dive into the recesses of the group's vaults, scrounging up everything that could possibly be of interest to the dedicated. Some of this stuff is indeed interesting; the live performances showcase a muscular group, one that hit much harder than their mod reputation would indicate, while the outtakes reveal a band with innate musicality, knowing what overdubs and mixes which would showcase the band at their best. Thing of it is, this contains the mixes that, by and large, the group rejected because they knew what was better, or it drifts into live cuts that are powerful but not definitive. In other words, a bunch of tracks for the fans who know the catalog inside out; it's for the listeners who can recognize the excised guitar tracks or the excess harmonies and mixes that pan across two speakers or consolidate into a punchy mono mix. All of it is certainly enjoyable, sometimes revealing, and the set is gorgeous, but it's one for the converted, the kind of fan who can drop a couple of hundred bucks and feel no remorse.
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