Way back when, I almost never owned any records on cassette. Commercial cassettes just had generally poor sound quality, the risk of damage, and I didn’t want to be involved. There were a few exceptions, where something I wanted was on super sale as a cassette. A particular James Brown with Full Force record comes to mind, or the soundtrack to “White Nights.” And here I am, without either of them, because cassettes were impermanent and commercial cassettes even more so. So, there weren’t a lot of cassettes in my collection. (My own mix tapes, on the best quality tape I could afford, was something different.)
So it’s a bit odd that I originally owned this collection as a cassette, but that’s only because it was given to me, and I’m now confused as to why. There was a guy I worked on the college paper with, a couple of years ahead of me; we were friendly but not friends. He always had a strong interest in music and continued to do music writing when he joined the AP, where he was originally part of the New York State Capitol press corps at a time when I was working in the Legislature, so we would see each other from time to time. One day I poked my head in to his office, and he handed me this cassette, the Immediate Singles Story. Did he remember that I had been a huge Small Faces fan? I cannot remember. I don’t believe he ever gave me an album before or since, but I remember he gave me this one.
And I was, in fact, a fan of Immediate Records, which at that point I probably still didn’t fully understand was Andrew Loog Oldham’s label – created in 1965 by a flamboyant 21-year-old Oldham (in our house we call him The Loog), the UK’s first independent label. It only lasted five years, burning pretty much every artist it was involved with, and particularly my favorites, The Small Faces.
What I liked the most on this album, of course, I already had: two great Small Faces songs. There were actually three Small Faces songs, as a group called Apostolic Intervention covered “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me.” I liked the opening Rod Stewart track, “Little Miss Understood,” and appreciated the single Fleetwood Mac track, a couple of nice contributions from P.P. Arnold (whose voice is what seals Small Faces’ “Tin Soldier” as the great rock song of all time.) The rest of these choices are fine — except for Glyn Johns. A legendary producer, he turns in two songs that would have been square in the mid-‘50s, and certainly didn’t belong on one of the hippest labels around. These are just terrible. The liner notes say “Little is known about Glyn Johns as a recording artist, although he gained much notoriety as a record producer, so this early single should be quite an embarrassment to him at social functions.” Yes it should.
The collection is interesting. The Rod Stewart tracks are from just before he joined the Jeff Beck Group. A Nico song was produced by Jimmy Page. Rockers “Earl Vince and the Valiants” were Fleetwood Mac fronted by Jeremy Spencer. The drummer for Apostolic Intervention was Jerry Shirley, who went on to Humble Pie with Steve Marriott. The Nice were a preface to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which couldn’t be clearer from listening. And Amen Corner, which oddly enough I have another album by (paired with a Small Faces disc), featured Andy Fairweather-Low. And there’s P.P. Arnold, who should have been a household name.
So, how did I come across this on vinyl? Just about a year ago, February 2020, when the world still existed, my friend Shawn asked if I wanted to go down to a record swap outside Lancaster with him, of a Sunday morning. I hadn’t done one of those in decades (other than the local Punk Rock Flea Market), and why not? So off we went to one of those things that is weirdly shoehorned into the wrong kind of venue. Ordinarily, a record swap rents out the cheapest space they can find in the local Marriott conference center. This one had taken out space in the local sportsplex, so you had ancient dudes like us in search of vinyl trying to get past families struggling to get to gymnastics on time. Having been on the other side, I felt very much like I was invading their space. Inside, the gymnasium was crammed full of record vendors, who had their crates crammed full of stuff priced not to sell. I was able to pick through and find enough things I genuinely wanted to have made the trip worthwhile recordwise, but there were a lot of dreams in those bins, people who were going to hold onto a $20 record until they could get some fool to pay them $80 for it. I wish them luck, but I’m not that fool. This record, however, which almost no one would want, was priced at $8, and as I no longer owned the cassette, I decided to grab it up. Glad it’s back in the collection, but hardly a necessity.