So there we were, at a loss for something to do, Saturday night in the suburbs. Must have been sometime around 1987. Al and me, he played drums and me guitar in I Can't Scream. So we took that drive down towards the Blackwall Tunnel, through Eltham and Woolwich, the flames and the stink from the refinery leading the way to the Tunnel Club. It was a place for a beer, to see a band. We would have got there, say, around half-eight or nine. We got a pint - they must have cleaned the carpet because my boots weren't sticking as much as usual.
In a room the size of your average pub bar, a band were tuning up. There were maybe thirty people there. Al and me stood at the back. And that was how I came to see Stevie Marriott and his Packet of Three and witness one of the greatest gigs I've ever seen. The booze-toughened voice, on-the-money R&B guitar made for some rough-edged versions of pretty much every Humble Pie and Small Faces song anyone of us could think of requesting and that a tight guitar, bass, drums combo could pull off.
I'd always had a thing for the Small Faces. Classic mid-60s mod tunes - All Or Nothing, Here Comes The Nice, Tin Soldier; the straight-up English psychedelia of Itchycoo Park and Lazy Sunday and idiotic Unwin interludes of Happiness Stan. After that night, I came to see Marriott for what he was, a great bloke and a true original.
So, to cut to the chase, here as large as life is a brand new, all official Small Faces website accompanying the Universal re-releases of the band's albums in May of this year, and giving a knowing nod to: "... genius in the form of four loveable larrikins from East London." Well worth a look.
By the by, what is a Larrikin?
The four original Small Faces albums: Small Faces; From The Beginning; Small Faces (Immediate); Ogdens'Gone Nut Flake are re-released on 17 May. http://www.thesmallfaces.co.uk/