Itchycoo Park

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"Itchycoo Park"
Single by Small Faces
from the album There Are But Four Small Faces
B-side"I'm Only Dreaming"
Released4 August 1967
RecordedOlympic Studios
24 July 1967
GenrePsychedelic rock, psychedelic pop
Songwriter(s)Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane
Producer(s)Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane
Small Faces singles chronology
"Here Come the Nice"
"Itchycoo Park"
"Tin Soldier"
Audio sample

"Itchycoo Park" is a psychedelic rock song written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, first recorded by their group, the Small Faces. The song reached number three in the UK Singles Chart in 1967.

Song profile[edit]

"Itchycoo Park" was released by The Small Faces in August 1967. Together with "Lazy Sunday", "Tin Soldier" and "All or Nothing", the song is one of the band's biggest hits and has become a classic of its time.[1]

The song reached number 16 in the American Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968.[2] In Canada, the song reached number 1.[3]

Long running British music magazine NME cites readers poll voting "Itchycoo Park" number 62 out of the top 100 singles of all time.[4]

"Itchycoo Park" climbed the charts again when it was re-released on 13 December 1975.[5]

The song was one of the first pop singles to use phasing, an effect that can be heard on the drums in the bridge section after each chorus.[6] Most sources credit the use of the effect to Olympic Studios engineer George Chkiantz who showed it to the Small Faces regular engineer Glyn Johns; he in turn demonstrated it to the group, who were always on the lookout for innovative production sounds, and they readily agreed to its use on the single.

Although many devices were soon created that could produce the same effect by purely electronic means, the effect as used on "Itchycoo Park" was at that time an electro-mechanical studio process.[7] Two synchronised tape copies of a finished recording were played simultaneously into a third master recorder, and by manually retarding the rotation of one of the two tape reels, a skilled engineer could subtly manipulate the phase difference between the two sources, creating the lush 'swooshing' phase effect that sweeps up and down the frequency range. The original single version was mixed and mastered in mono, and the phasing effect is more pronounced in the mono mix than in the later stereo mix.[citation needed]


The song was first conceived and largely written by Ronnie Lane, who had been reading a leaflet on the virtues of Oxford which mentioned its dreaming spires.[8]

A number of sources claim the song's name is derived from the nickname of Little Ilford Park, on Church Road in the London suburb of Manor Park, where Small Faces' singer and songwriter Steve Marriott grew up. The "itchycoo" nickname is, in turn, attributed to the stinging nettles which grew there. Other sources cite nearby Wanstead Flats (Manor Park end) as the inspiration for the song.[9]

Photo of Wanstead Flats, London E12 near Marriott's Manor Park home

Marriott and Small Faces manager Tony Calder came up with the well-known story when Marriott was told the BBC had banned the song for its overt drug references, Calder confirms:

We scammed the story together, we told the BBC that Itchycoo Park was a piece of waste ground in the East End that the band had played on as kids – we put the story out at ten and by lunchtime we were told the ban was off.[10]

Ronnie Lane said of the true location of Itchycoo Park: "It's a place we used to go to in Ilford years ago. Some bloke we know suggested it to us because it's full of nettles and you keep scratching actually".[11]

Other possible etymologies[edit]

Despite all the claims as to which park is the original Itchycoo park, in an interview Steve Marriott stated that "It's Valentine's Park in Ilford. We used to go there and get stung by wasps. It's what we used to call it". This was reiterated by actor Tony Robinson, a childhood friend of Marriott's [12]

Itchy Park is located in the East End of London and dates back to the Victorian era.[13]

The term "Itchycoo", also appears in the Scots language from around the 1950s.[14]

Steve Marriott once said of The Small Faces "(We) were a mix of R&B and music hall. The R&B came from Detroit, the music hall from Stepney. That's what 'Itchycoo Park' is about…having a drink and a party."

M People version[edit]

"Itchycoo Park"
M People-Itchycoo Park.jpg
Single by M People
from the album Bizarre Fruit II
M People singles chronology
"Love Rendezvous"
"Itchycoo Park"
"Just for You"
Music video
"Itchycoo Park" on YouTube

British band M People did a dance version of "Itchycoo Park" in 1995. The track peaked on number 11 at the UK Singles Chart and was remixed by David Morales. It also peaked at number 21 in New Zealand, number 24 in Iceland and number 27 in Australia.

Critical reception[edit]

Music & Media wrote about the song: "Chart darlings M People have reworked this Small Faces classic with equal measures of dance beats, a Billy Joel/River Of Dreams piano sound and marvellous gospel undertones. Their innovative arrangements will take them high into the charts with this one."[15]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Itchycoo Park" was directed by Maria Mochnacz.[16]


Chart (1995) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts) 27
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[17] 22
Germany (Official German Charts) 55
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[18] 24
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 16
Netherlands (Tipparade)[20] 14
Netherlands (Dutch Single Tip)[21] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 21
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[22] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 11
UK Dance (Official Charts Company)[23] 7

Uses and other notable versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Guide to British Music of the 1960s". Making Time. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  2. ^ Hewitt & Rod Stewart, Paulo; Hellier, John. Steve Marriott - All Too Beautiful.... Helter Skelter. p. 160. ISBN 1-900924-44-7.
  3. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - January 27, 1968" (PDF). Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  4. ^ "NME Readers all time top 100 singles published 1976". NME. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  5. ^ "Top 40 Hits of Mid January 1976". Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  6. ^ Hodgson, Jay (19 August 2010). Understanding Records: A Field Guide To Recording Practice. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 142. ISBN 9781441124098. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  7. ^ Stojkovski, Dragan (6 September 2016). "Itchycoo Park". Kurrent Music. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  8. ^ Oxford's Bridge of Sighs is mentioned in the first line. Hewitt, Paulo; Kenney Jones (1995). small faces the young mods' forgotten story. Acid Jazz. p. 99. ISBN 0-9523935-0-6.
  9. ^ "Small Faces London- Ilford Park". Making Time. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  10. ^ Steve Marriott, All Too Beautiful p.154
  11. ^ Hewitt, Paulo; Kenney Jones (1995). Small Faces: The Young Mods' Forgotten Story. Acid Jazz. p. 98. ISBN 0-9523935-0-6.
  12. ^ Robinson, Tony (2016). No Cunning Plan. Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-5098-4303-9.
  13. ^ Itchy Park Retrieved 16 September 2008
  14. ^ "ITCHY-COO". Scottish National Dictionary/Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Music & Media: New Releases" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 31 July 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  16. ^ "Itchycoo Park (1995) by M People". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (NR. 149 Vikuna 23.12. '95 - 5.1. '96)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved 19 July 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Itchycoo Park". Irish Singles Chart.
  20. ^ "M People - Itchycoo Park" (in Dutch). Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  21. ^ "M PEOPLE - ITCHYCOO PARK" (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Itchycoo Park, soundtrack to Severance film". 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2007.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]