Sunday, December 7, 2014
Track of the Week: Small Faces "Itchycoo Park"
This week brought the sad news of the deaths of Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan two of my favorite rock musicians. (Next week's track of the week will be from Keys.) McLagan is often thought of as a Rolling Stones session musician, but true rock scholars know him for his work in the Small Faces and the Faces, two of my favorite bands of all time. A lot of groups in the psychedelic era incorporated the organ, but few had someone with McLagan's creative touch.
There are many of songs where I could point to his genius, but I'll highlight "Itchycoo Park" because his organ is the driving force of the song. It's a typically psychedelic tune about consuming drugs on a sunny day and going down to the park to enjoy the beauties of nature with a little chemical enhancement. The jaunty tone is well established by McLagan's colorful organ from the first bars of the song. There are no pyrotechnics here or virtuosic touches, and that very restraint helps sustain the desired tone of the song. The Small Faces and Faces were great bands because they were actually bands, with each member contributing a great deal without overshadowing the others. By all accounts of people I know who knew McLagan, he was a good guy who will very much be missed. RIP