|"Here Come the Nice"|
|Single by The Small Faces|
|"Talk to You"|
|Released||2 June 1967|
|Recorded||8-12 May 1967|
|Studio||Olympic Studios, London|
|The Small Faces singles chronology|
"Here Come the Nice"[nb 1] is a song released by English group Small Faces. Written by guitarist Steve Marriott and bass guitarist Ronnie Lane, it was first released as a single on 2 June 1967 through Immediate Records. The song, which was their debut on Immediate, was also their first promoted release of 1967, following feuds with Decca Records, who had released two singles that year. As a result the single managed to reach number twelve in the UK Singles Chart during the summer of 1967. It marks a distinct turning point for the Small Faces career; it is their first single to deliberately venture into psychedelia, though they'd previously done that on a few album tracks for Decca. The subject regarding a drug dealer somehow bypassed the BBC censors, who did not ban it, which resulted in the song managing to chart in the UK.
The song is also known for its' distinct outro, which was done through unpractical studio effects, similar to how they would experiment with flanging on their follow-up single "Itchycoo Park", which was released shortly after. Nonetheless, "Here Come the Nice" became one of Small Faces best known recordings, and, although it failed to chart within the top-ten of the UK singles chart it ultimately led the Small Faces to continue producing psychedelic songs for the rest of their career. Despite not charting on neither the Billboard Hot 100 nor the Cashbox Top 100, the single was eventually included on the US-only album There Are But Four Small Faces, released approximately ten months after the single, and was also included on the soundtrack of Peter Whitehead's Tonite Lets All Make Love in London shortly thereafter.
Throughout most of their early career, rhythm and blues had been a staple on their repertoire, in where they covered such standards such as "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" and "Baby Don't You Do It" to great reception from the audiences.Their debut album, released on 11 May 1966, follows an almost entirely exact formula, consisting of both rhythm and blues covers along with audiably similar original compositions. In contrast to their album tracks, however, were their singles, which diverted from this formula significantly, being much more commercial. This was in large part due to the fact that their second single, "I've Got Mine", failed to chart in Britain, after which their manager Don Arden brought in songwriters Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman to compose the follow-up.[nb 2] "Sha-La-La-La-Lee", a poppier song, became the end result, and managed to give the Small Faces a respectable number three single in the UK Singles Chart despite the band's negative opinion of it. This led the Small Faces to get stuck under the "pop single" band, in style with Manfred Mann and Herman's Hermits for approximately a year.
Additionally, by 1967, popular musical genres had begun changing as well, and the group's initially strong mod following had begun decreasing as a result.Psychedelic drugs had become popular among both various subcultures and bands. Small Faces had by now been introduced to LSD, during a party at their residence on 11 May 1966 (the same day their debut album was released). On that day, the Beatles manager Brian Epstein, (who regularly visited the band) along with The Moody Blues' drummer Graeme Edge visited the band at their residence, located at 22 Westmoreland Terrace in Pimlico following a meeting with Edge at Decca Studios in West Hampstead.
There, Epstein passed orange slices on a plate around to the various band members, who all accepted them, with the exception of drummer Kenney Jones.[nb 3] Keyboardist Ian McLagan recalled that the band's reaction to the drug varied; he states that while Lane overlooked the river River Thames, Marriott planned on going to Manchester to visit his girlfriend. However, Marriott apparently had a bad trip on the drug and eventually the group, along with Mick O'Sullivan, took Marriott to Euston railway station where he took a train to Manchester. Although they got a negative first impression of the drug, it became an important factor for the Small Faces music.
The group had begun composing new music, including some psychedelic tracks. These included "That Man", "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow", "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me?", "Green Circles" and "My Way of Giving". However, during this time, the began to grow bitter with their label Decca Records along with Arden, who they felt cheated them. Because although he had given them a salary of £20 a week, along with accounts at Carnaby Street clothing stores, the group failed to see income from performances or royalties from any of their singles. The two final straws came when their parents confronted Arden, to which he responded that the Small Faces were using drugs, and when the group heard "My Mind's Eye" on the radio, which was a demo they'd sent in to Arden, not hoping to release it.
However, hope came when Andrew Loog Oldham's label Immediate Records decided to buy the Small Faces contract for £25 000 from Decca, which was announced on 11 February in a New Musical Express article. With Immediate, Small Faces were granted unlimited studio time and finally got the royalties they needed. Small Faces still owed Decca one more song, which eventually was released as "I Can't Make It", a song which they made no attempt in promoting; it stalled at number 26.
The title of the song comes from the comedian Lord Buckley monologue, "Here Comes Da Nazz". Marriott had first heard the phrase in 1965, when he, original keyboardist Jimmy Winston and Winston's girlfriend hung out at her apartment. According to McLagan, Marriott had an extremely Catholic taste of music, deriving inspiration from several artists and sources, and that Buckley "rapped" it. He also states that "Nazz" was slang for Jesus. The song features a line which alludes to drug use; "He makes me feel like no-one else could, He knows what I want, He's got what I need, He's always there if I need some speed." The phrase "speed" is a synonym for the central nervous system stimulant drug Amphetamine. However, in a 2014 interview with Uncut magazine, McLagan stated that it refers to Methadrine, an alternate form of Methamphetamine, which McLagan said was one of "all kinds of chemicals" they were using, with him wanting to express about what drugs he was using at the time. The song also references a dealer in the opening verse, which McLagan admitted were written as a nod towards them.
For the song, McLagan had purchased a Hammond M102 specifically for the recording of the song, drawing inspiration from Booker T. Jones playing on Booker T. & the M.G.'s 1962 single "Green Onions". The Small Faces recorded the song during sporadic sessions at Olympic Studios between 8 and 12 May 1967, with Eddie Kramer and Glyn Johns assisting as studio engineers. Marriott and Lane produced the song themselves
The record is also notable for its innovative ending - instead of the customary fade out, it uses a combination of studio effects to simulate the inevitable "come-down" from the speed "high". This was created by editing two elements together - the first element was created by using the variable speed control on the master tape recorder to slow down the playback of the song's final chord, which slides down rapidly in pitch before an abrupt cut to the second element, a sequence of crashing, chaotic sounds created by striking and strumming on resonating piano strings. The mono and stereo mixes of the single differ slightly in the timing of this effect, with the 'pitch drop' effect coming in slightly earlier in the mono mix than in the stereo mix. Jones attributes this to "their four arses sitting down together on the keys of an old upright.
Although "Here Come the Nice" was first announced as a single through New Musical Express and Melody Maker in their 27 May issues, "Green Circles" was initially announced by Melody Maker to most likely become their debut Immediate single, which would be eventually released by the end of May that year. This contrasts from initial plans, when either "Something I Want to Tell You" or "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me?" were planned to become their debut singles on Immediate. However, when May had eventually come, NME listed "Green Circles" as the B-side of "Here Come the Nice", while Melody Maker correctly listed "Talk to You" as the B-side. On 26 May, "Patterns", backed by "E Too D",[nb 4] was released by Decca Records. This release was only conceived by Decca in order to capitalize on the Small Faces success, along with deliberately attempting to hinder the Small Faces chart success with "Here Come the Nice". The song, comparable to the music they made in 1966, was quickly publicly denounced by the Small Faces, who, similarly to "I Can't Make It", did not promote it.
"Here Come the Nice" itself would eventually be released as a single on 2 June 1967, this time "Green Circles" was replaced by "Talk to You".[nb 5] Under the stricter Don Arden it is likely that the track would not have been issued as a single since it contained subtle drug references, alluding to the incident with their parents, however Andrew Loog Oldham at Immediate had no problems with the song's release. The song features several references to the group's dealer, through lyrics such as "He's got what I need, he's always there if I need some speed." The release of "Here Come the Nice" came to be a tense moment for the group, as the BBC had banned "I Can't Make It" for unknown reasons, which led to a sense of uncertainty regarding the single.[nb 6] However, the single managed to bypass the censors, something that Hewitt and Hellier attributed to guilt, while Jones believed it slipped through Mary Whitehouse.
In doing this, the single managed to reach the UK singles chart, entering on 14 June 1967 at a position of thirty-seven, it peaked at number twelve on 11 July and exited at a position of twenty-nine on 8 August that year. The song spent nine weeks on the chart, of which six were in the top-twenty. The single also reached number twenty-four on the West German Media Control chart during that same summer. Like all singles prior to "Itchycoo Park", it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 nor the Cashbox Top 100, although Billboard had predicted for it to reach the chart in their 29 July issue. The US issue of the single was delayed because of issues with distribution along with the American master tape being an alternate take. The single would eventually be released through United Artists Records two months later.
"Here Come the Nice" was not included on any of the Small Faces three British studio albums, although the B-Side, "Talk to You", was released on Small Faces about two weeks after the single was released. In the US however, following the huge chart success of "Itchycoo Park", previous UK singles, along with some tracks from Small Faces were issued on the North American exclusive album There Are But Four Small Faces on 17 March 1968. In the UK, the song first appeared on an LP when it was included on the soundtrack of Tonite Lets All Make Love in London on 18 July 1968. The film was made by Peter Whitehead, who the Small Faces had previously worked with making promotional films for their songs "Just Passing", "Itchycoo Park" and "Lazy Sunday". Nonetheless, "Here Come the Nice" became a staple on most compilation albums the Small Faces released, and was included as the opening track of the double album The Autumn Stone. The song was later utilized as the title track of a Small Faces box set that details the material recorded between 1967 and 1969.
The single received mostly positive critical feedback from critics, who liked the direction the band took. In their 3 June 1967 issue, New Musical Express critic Derek Johnson stated that unlike previous singles, it was more subdued with a good melody along with great harmonies, noting the blues influenced sound, while also liking the ending to the song.Melody Maker stated that the single had a great chance of reaching the top-ten, noting McLagan's organ, while simultaneously noting that the members have retained their personalities, despite a shift in genres. While reviewing singles for Disc & Music Echo, fellow musician Lulu stated that while she initially thought it was female singing, she liked the innovative ending and called it a better song than "Patterns", but thought it sounded similar to a track from the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Peter Jones of Record Mirror thought the single had a "Light-edged vocal line" which then builds up to "Marriott bluesily selling over the group backing." He did, however, find the single less commercial than previous records, but thought it had clever lyrics. During a blindfold test for Melody Maker, guitarist Jimi Hendrix heard the song. Despite initially thinking it had a female vocalist, he liked them and realized it was the Small Faces. He stated that the drumming, beat and backing vocals were great and spoke of a "Mrs. Miller trick" regarding the tempo. He thought that the single was a step up from material recorded in 1966, and wanted to write with them, despite being unsure on whether or not the song would be a hit.
Retrospectively, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called "Here Come the Nice", along with "Itchyoo Park" and "Tin Soldier" the best singles the band recorded.Rolling Stone critic David Fricke called the song a "Motown-like concision". Dave Swanson of Ultimate Classic Rock called it "a wonderful little song", noting the nods to drug dealers. The Small Faces themselves have stated mixed opinions regarding the song. While Jones stated that it was recorded and released during a time period in which their compositions became meaningful, he "bracketed" it together with "Tin Soldier" as they have similar arrangements. McLagan thought it was odd that the BBC did not ban it, while stating dismay with the ending, which he called "crap." "Here Come the Nice" might have inspired the naming of Keith Emerson's band the Nice. Upon signing with Immediate, Marriott suggested for the band The Little People to change their name to the Nice, which Oldham turned down, considering it rubbish. Marriott would occassionally also shout "Here Come the Nice" in the presence of Oldham, further adding to the speculation.
Nonetheless, "Here Come the Nice" marked a gap between their earlier music and later music, while not fitting in with either category. The subtle drug references has led to both The Rich Kids featuring Midge Ure and Glen Matlock recording a live version of "Here Come the Nice" for the B-side of their single "Marching Men" in 1978, and Noel Gallagher with Paul Weller also performing the song live.
Personnel according to Here Comes The Nice: Immediate Years box set 1967-69.
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||12|
|West German Media Control Singles Chart||24|