The Small Faces didn’t waste any time. In a matter of months, they went from covering their favourite American R&B records in small London clubs, to focusing on their own material and making their first visit to the UK top 20. That was happening in October 1965, with their debut single (pictured above in its French sleeve), ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It.’
In its backbeat and groove, the song owed a clear debt to Solomon Burke’s Atlantic Records gem of the year before, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.’ But it was their own composition, with a melody by the group’s Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane to lyrics by prolific British writer, bassist and former Shadows member Ian ‘Sammy’ Samwell, who also produced the Decca 45.
This classic moment in the Small Faces’ history was recorded with a prominent role on organ for original keyboard player Jimmy Winston, shortly before he was replaced by the late Ian McLagan. In his highly entertaining autobiography All The Rage, ‘Mac’ recalled being at home watching the quartet performing ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ on Ready Steady Go! one Friday night.
“It was August 1965 and they were rocking,” he wrote. “And they were real mods, not like me, the art-student type in brown corduroy jacket and blue jeans without a pot to piss in.” Little did he know that just a few weeks later, he would get a call from the Small Faces’ notorious manager Don Arden about joining the line-up.
The single entered the UK chart in the first week of September 1965, and in the week of 14 October, peaked at No. 14, sandwiched between Dusty Springfield’s ‘Some Of Your Lovin’’ and Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe.’ By early ’66, the Small Faces would follow up with their first top ten hit, ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee.’
‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ is on the From The Beginning album, which can be bought here.
Follow the 60s playlist for more fabulous hits from the entire decade.