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‘All Or Nothing’: When The Small Faces Toppled The Beatles

The quartet unseated The Beatles in the UK with what Steve Marriott called the first proper record they’d done.

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All Or Nothing Small Faces

The groundwork of their initial releases of 1965 really paid off for the Small Faces the following year, when they became a major chart force. After consecutive UK top ten hits with “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” and “Hey Girl,” the London quartet became chart-toppers on September 17, 1966 with “All Or Nothing.”

Sinking a submarine

Created like its predecessor by the group’s writing partnership of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, the song had been climbing the charts since its early August release. The song had the distinction of removing The Beatles from the summit, ending the four-week reign of “Yellow Submarine”/“Eleanor Rigby,” to give the Small Faces their one week at No.1 in the UK.

Marriott himself was rightly proud of the song and the progression that it represented in the group’s output. “It’s great,” he told Richard Green in Record Mirror. “This is the first proper record we’ve done instead of all that Mickey Mouse stuff like ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee.’

“We take writing far more seriously now than we used to,” he went on candidly. “I don’t think there is anything the Small Faces could do to improve ‘All Or Nothing.’ With some of the other numbers we could have done a much better job if we could spend more time on them.”

A million-pound musical

In the 21st century, the song has played its part in introducing the Small Faces to a new generation of admirers. It provided the title for Carol Harrison’s musical, which has enjoyed great success in Britain, with ticket sales passing £1 million in the summer of 2017. It had a London West End run in the spring of 2018.

There were four more UK top ten hits to come in the all-too-short history of the Small Faces, but “All Or Nothing” would remain their biggest chart disc and, as Marriott agreed, remained among their finest moments on record.

“All Or Nothing” is on From The Beginning, which can be bought here.

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