Jan 06

THE SMALL FACES – “All Or Nothing”

Popular112 comments • 5,506 views

#223, 17th September 1966

You can still hear records that sound like this in the charts occasionally, because the big late-90s Britrock boom was built on this template and some of that generation of bands have lingered. It seems to be a model that guys like Richard Ashcroft, who take themselves and their music pretty seriously, reach for, and I can understand why.

The Small Faces have picked up an expressive vocabulary from soul, with lots of stock interjections and hints of call-and-response, even if there’s no actual response. It’s a music that values noise and technique (though not yet to the point where they become a priority) and I don’t know where that came from, maybe just from in-circuit cockfighting among the newer groups. And then you’ve got some vestiges of pop songwriting or reflex: those “ba-ba-ba-das”, for instance, and the dynamics – tantrum swings of aggression and volume – might be half-borrowings from the foghorn pop of Cilla, too. But it’s not as disciplined as pop has been – even if it’s only three minutes long it feels longer, feels like the band are giving themselves space and time to preen a bit.

This all combines into a sound I recognise as “rock” – whether it rocks or not – and react against, even though it’s interesting seeing it develop here. It’s deeply unfair to blame the Small Faces for the iniquities of their descendents, but I find “All Or Nothing” charmless anyway. I think the bullish interruptions – “Come on children!” “Mmm yeah” “You know what I mean!” and the familiar rest – strip out the vulnerability the song needs to be sympathetic, and leaves it red-faced, self-satisfied, even bullying.



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  1. 91
    Mark M on 7 Aug 2012 #

    Obviously, the problem from the point of view of the traditional media and advertisers is that sports tournaments make and break names – the cover stars going in aren’t necessarily those you want afterwards. Rebecca Adlington (‘only’ a pair of bronzes) and Cav are not who you want your brand in bed with now, while we will now discover if there is anything to warm to about Greg Rutherford, for instance.

  2. 92
    Cumbrian on 7 Aug 2012 #

    #90: Yeah she’s attractive. But isn’t it mostly because she was a better than decent medal prospect in what is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as the main event of the games – the athletics.

    The face of the Games in 2008 was touted to be Liu Xiang. 110m hurdles (but had to withdraw injured). It wound up being Michael Phelps and/or Usain Bolt – but the publicity in China around the games was all Liu Xiang.

    The face(s) of the Games in 2004 were going to be Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterina Thanou. Again, athletics (again, problems – weird motorbike crash and drugs problems).

    The face of the Games in 2000 was Cathy Freeman.

    The face of the Games in 1996 was Michael Johnson.

    I think it’s got an awful lot more to do with the fact that athletics is the pre-eminent sport in the Olympics, whether we like it or not, and that Ennis won the World Championships in 2009 to give a nice long lead time to the publicity drive (even though she came second in 2011). The fact that she is an attractive lady adds to the mix – but if she was as successful as Joanne Ankier (who I thought was a really good looking woman – but a terrible 3000m steeplechaser), I doubt Jess’s looks would have pushed her forward.

  3. 93
    Erithian on 7 Aug 2012 #

    The Swede and I are agreed that Jess isn’t the best-looking British heptathlete – but Louise Hazel, gold medallist in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, only finished 27th which isn’t going to get her on many front pages.

  4. 94
    enitharmon on 7 Aug 2012 #

    Well, Yay for Laura anyway. She’s the Queen of London 2012 for me if for nobody else. All round lovely lass.

    I think I ought to divert this thread to here

  5. 95
    Erithian on 8 Aug 2012 #

    No question about that, especially given the condition she’s living with that makes her vomit after every race.

    The initial tip as Face of the Games was Christine Ohuruogu, who comes from closer to the stadium than anybody except Perri. Her unfortunate doping “offence” after missing three tests (very easily done by innocent athletes) torpedoed that, and even when she won gold in Beijing opinion was greatly divided.

    No-one has ever looked better while winning a gold than Denise Lewis, though, and she’s every bit as fabulous twelve years on!

  6. 96
    Jimmy the Swede on 8 Aug 2012 #

    I echo Erithian’s comments on Louise Hazel and especially Denise Lewis, who surely must inflame red-blooded Michael Johnson whenever he is compelled to sit next to her. Something tells me the same does not apply to Colin Jackson.

    The Swede’s “Face” is without question Anna Watkins, a golden gal in every sense.

    Say it isn’t so, Rosie!!

  7. 97
    swanstep on 12 Aug 2012 #

    Time perhaps to restart Olympics discussion: I’m really looking forward to the closing ceremony! Kate Bush has been rumored… fingers crossed.

  8. 98
    swanstep on 13 Aug 2012 #

    Oh well, no KB performance, but the use of her song (and the incorporation of some of her video imagery) worked very well I thought.

    Other random thoughts:

    1. About half-way through things seemed to get a bit on the nose: the fashion segment made me think of a restoration of the reign of the pretty and the cool and the end of the jock interregnum; Jessie J singing Pricetag reminded me of what the whole event must have cost; and so on.
    2. Wish You Were Here is a hell of a song.
    3. Brian May is a hell of a guitarist.
    4. Muse as usual sounded better live than they do on record: their performance made their pretty-bad Olympic song sound great in real time (although I still can’t remember a note of it)
    5. Liked the Michael Caine near the beginning.
    6. Thought a trick was missed at the end with The Who: I’d have gone for ‘peak athletic moments/memories’ – people clearing high jummo in slo lo, finishing lines, that sort of thing, – as the video accompaniment to ‘Listening to you, I get the story…’ etc not ‘person in the street’ stuff.
    7. Hats off in general to the army of techies who made that sound and look and flow as good as it did.

    What did everybody else think?

  9. 99
    enitharmon on 13 Aug 2012 #

    The cultural cringe I feard on the first night finally arrived on the last.

  10. 100
    Erithian on 13 Aug 2012 #

    #98 – the fashion segment with the models just had me thinking there were way prettier and cooler people among the athletes in the audience!

    Best instant reaction I’ve heard so far was the tweet from Salman Rushdie: “I’m sorry, but with the best will in the world Russell Brand is NOT the Walrus.”

    And this thread raises its bat to the pavilion, with exactly half its posts down to the Bradley Wiggins connection! Is this the oldest thread to reach 100 posts?

  11. 101
    Rory on 13 Aug 2012 #

    I’m with Rosie. It all felt anticlimactic after the games themselves and that fantastic opening ceremony, whose soundtrack has barely left the Now Playing slot on my iPod. When I heard David Arnold was the musical director I was quite hopeful, but it felt far less musically coherent and engaging than Rick Smith’s magnificent effort. Maybe some of that was down to the mixing we heard on TV, which played up some of the ropey aging vocals of certain performers in a way that might not have been as noticeable in the stadium – as with Macca in the opening.

    It picked up towards the end. Muse were great (although I rate the studio version of “Survival” much more highly than swanstep, it seems), Brian May was having a blast, and Roger Daltrey was definitely the exception among the aging rockers, sounding fantastic. But the Spice Girls reunion just made me think how much better the Sugababes and Girls Aloud have done it since their heyday, and some of the other acts seemed second-string.

    As for the visuals, many segments felt like a poor imitation of Boyle’s achievement, without any of his sense of narrative. I liked the octopus, but have no idea what relationship it bore to anything else going on. The pixelated lights in the crowds were impressive, in a “look, we’re a giant disco ball” way. Apart from that, they just seemed to want us to stare at the union jack for three hours. All hail the hypnoflag.

    Those giant shots of supine models on the sides of trucks were a major misstep, too. There you go, women of the world, why tire yourself out with sport when you can put on a frock and strut your stuff?

  12. 102
    weej on 13 Aug 2012 #

    Chris TT didn’t like it.

  13. 103
    swanstep on 13 Aug 2012 #

    All hail the hypnoflag.
    Ha! I love that. It’s funny, I remember the Sydney Olympics as being very covered in Aussie flags but looking at Kylie and Vanessa Amorosi clips from the 2000 closing ceremony just now, very few flags are in evidence. Indeed, everything looks very relaxed and uncrowded (on every level) compared to the London scenes today.

  14. 104
    swanstep on 16 Aug 2012 #

    Apparently the US broadcast of the Closing Ceremony on NBC edited out (among other things including Muse) Ray Davies’s Waterloo Sunset and the Kate Bush-themed segment. Americans, however, got all of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Staggering.

  15. 105
    Mutley on 16 Aug 2012 #

    Ray Davies on the One Show last night still going on about his brother – he should have performed with Beady Eye at the Closing Ceremony. The One Show – it gets “legends” as guests – e.g. Ray Davies, and the preceding night two Olympic gold medal winners, and then largely ignores them in favour of items about toad motorway crossings and the like. Pure 1950s TV with added technology.

  16. 106
    anto on 16 Aug 2012 #

    re 105 : Ray Davies ” When I’m writing a song I visualise it first.”

    Matt Baker ” How, exactly? ”

    Ray Davies ” Well with Waterloo Sunset for instance that
    started with an image. ”

    Matt Baker ” And what was it exactly? ”

    Educated guess Matt. A sunset over Waterloo Bridge?????
    God give us strength.

  17. 107
    hectorthebat on 30 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 100 Singles of All Time (1976) 91
    Q (UK) – 50 Greatest British Tracks (2005) 21
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)

  18. 108
    Erithian on 3 Dec 2014 #

    Sad news tonight – Ian McLagan RIP.

  19. 109
    enitharmon on 4 Dec 2014 #

    Sad news indeed. Rest in peace Ian and thank you for the music. You were the least flamboyant of the four but you held it all together so well.

  20. 110
    lonepilgrim on 6 Sep 2015 #

    ‘All or nothing’ seems to set or fit the template for ‘rock’ (as it developed from the 60s and 70s) of taking a basic tune and then extemporising around it vocally and or instrumentally. You can hear it in Joe Cocker’s version of ‘A little help from my friends’ amongst others. At the risk of falling into sexist cliche its mostly boy friendly as it places virtuosity and complexity over emotional truth or subtlety. This single has the virtue of being relatively concise but it hints at worse things to come.

  21. 111
    Latasha Fredereicks on 23 Apr 2021 #

    I would go for 8/10 for this. A great band and one of my favourite 60s number ones.

  22. 112
    Gareth Parker on 7 Jun 2021 #

    One of my favourite groups. A classic single to my ears and a dead cert 10/10 in my book.

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