Itchycoo Park

"Itchycoo Park" is a song written by Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane, first recorded by their group, the Small Faces. Largely written by Lane, it was one of the first music recordings to feature flanging, an effect at that time made possible by electro-mechanical processes. The location and etymology of the titular park has long been debated; many claiming it to be Little Ilford Park in Manor Park, East London or Wanstead Flats in Wanstead, East London. The single was not featured on any of their UK albums, but was however featured on the North American release There Are But Four Small Faces.

"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
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

Released on 4 August 1967 on Immediate Records, the song was the Small Faces' fifth top-ten song in the UK Singles Chart, reaching a position of number three. "Itchycoo Park" became the Small Faces' sole top-forty hit in the United States, reaching number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1968. It fared similarly well throughout Continental Europe, reaching the top ten in several countries there. The single was re-released in December 1975, reaching number nine in the UK Singles chart, and is often attributed as the reason for the Small Faces reunion during the mid-1970s.[3]

The song has since been covered by several other artists, most notably by English band M People in 1995, whose dance rendition of the song reached number eleven in the UK.

Song profileEdit

"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.[4]

The song reached number 16 in the American Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968.[5] In Canada, the song reached number 1.[6]

Long running British music magazine NME cites readers poll voting "Itchycoo Park" number 62 out of the top 100 singles of all time.[7]

"Itchycoo Park" climbed the charts again when it was re-released on 13 December 1975.[8]

The song was one of the first pop singles to use flanging, an effect that can be heard on the drums in the bridge section after each chorus.[9] 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.[10] 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 by pressing on the flanges, 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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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".[14]

Other possible etymologiesEdit

In an interview Steve Marriott stated that Itchycoo park is " 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 [15]

The term "Itchycoo" also appears in the Scots language from around the 1950s.[16]

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."

Itchy Park refers to the grounds of Christ Church Spitalfields in the East End of London, laid out as gardens in 1890.[17]

In Japanese, Ginkgo is called "Itchyoo" and Itchycoo looks like misspell of "Itchyoo", there was memorial planting of "Itchyoo" at the Pembroke Dock, Wales, by Togo Heihachiro in late 19th century, and it might has some relation to the Itchycoo park.



M People versionEdit

"Itchycoo Park"
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 receptionEdit

Aberdeen Press and Journal described the song as "refreshing".[30] Jose F. Promis from AllMusic said it is an "epic version".[31] Music & Media wrote that "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."[32]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Itchycoo Park" was directed by Maria Mochnacz.[33]

Track listingEdit

CD single, UK & Europe (1995)
1."Itchycoo Park" (Radio Edit)3:52
2."Itchycoo Park" (M People Master Mix)6:42
3."Itchycoo Park" (Morales Classic Club Mix)7:52
4."Itchycoo Park" (Hed Boys Post-op Mix)9:04
5."Itchycoo Park" (Morales Beautiful Instrumental)6:22


Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1995) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[34] 27
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[35] 22
Germany (Official German Charts)[36] 55
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[37] 24
Ireland (IRMA)[38] 16
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40 Tipparade)[39] 14
Netherlands (Single Top 100 Tipparade)[40] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[41] 21
Scotland (OCC)[42] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 11
UK Dance (OCC)[43] 7

Uses and other notable versionsEdit


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  15. ^ Robinson, Tony (2016). No Cunning Plan. Sidgwick & Jackson. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-5098-4303-9.
  16. ^ "ITCHY-COO". Scottish National Dictionary/Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  17. ^ Itchy Park Retrieved 16 September 2008
  18. ^ a b c "itchycoo park | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  19. ^ " - Norwegian charts portal". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  20. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (27 January 1968). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 50.
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  32. ^ "Music & Media: New Releases" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
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  35. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 12 no. 49. 9 December 1995. p. 12. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  36. ^ " – M People – Itchycoo Park" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
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Further readingEdit

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