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HUMBLE PIE- “SMOKIN” REVIEW”
BY ANDY MELLEN
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA
APRIL 29, 1972
HUMBLE PIE — SMOKIN’ is Humble Pie’s third album in less than a year, and it would seem that the group’s prolific output is starting to take its toll. Just as The Guess Who’s ‘Rockin’ LP was something of a misnomer, so is Smokin’ — if this is Humble Pie’s idea of an album that literally bursts with energy, I think the guys should reassess their musical values. Take-’Rock On, the album which was released shortly after the band’s appearance here. Now that record really; smoked, as did Performance, the dynamic two record set recorded at Fillmore East. Although the members of the group tended to display their virtuosity in great excess at times, they still managed to lay down enough driving, hard as steel rock and roll to make most groups simply green with envy. With a few exceptions, Smokin’ just doesn’t come off as being truly representative of what Humble Pie is capable of doing.
One of the problems stems from the replacement of former lead guitarist Peter Frampton with Dave Clempson of the now defunct Colliseum. Clem is a fine guitarist, but somehow he just doesn’t seem to work as well with the group as Frampton did. Otherwise, the lineup is splendid, with Steve Marriott, one of rock’s most exciting vocalists, handling the majority of the singing as well as second guitar, Jerry Shirley on drums and Greg Ridley, vocals and bass.
“Hot ‘N Nasty” is a nifty little rocker, with Marriott’s pulsating work on organ and then piano trying hard to be heard over Ridley’s thundering bass lines. “The Fixer” is a riff rocker, which comes across as very concious effort by the band to be heavy. It rocks, but certainly doesn’t roll. One of my favorite tracks is “You’re So Good To Me”, a partly acoustic number with Ridley and Marriott exchanging vocal leads. It’s quite reminiscent of some of the original Small Faces’ things, with Steve’s pleading vocal being fairly convincing.
An Eddie Cochran tune, “C’mon Everybody”, fares well-enough, with Clempson getting in some of his best guitar licks, riding above Marriott’s strong rhythm backup. “Old Time Feelin” wraps up side one in average fashion. It’s a laid back , country-oriented track, with some nice tinkly piano but not much else to really distinguish it.
“30 Days In The Hole” is The Pie at its best, a real raver which starts slow, but comes on strong in a manner similar to Free’s “All Right Now”. A catchy guitar line, wailing vocal and excellent accompaniment by Doris Troy and Madeleine Bell on backing and harmony vocals make this a potential hit, in spite of references to silver coke spoons and “Black Nepalese, it’s got you weak in your knees.” Road Runner is an exercise in monotony, while “I Wonder”, a long blues track, features some Hendrix-influenced guitar work but fails to go anywhere. As a shorter piece it might have worked, but as
it stands, this isn’t worth the nine minutes worth of wax it takes up.
“Sweet Peace And Time” is a promising finale, with the band moving vigorously through an up-tempo driving rocker. In all, though, this album falls far below my expectations for a group of Humble Pie’s stature. Hopefully, things will be rectified by the next record; meanwhile, I’m eagerly awaiting Frampton’s upcoming solo LP, which I think might have something more substantial to offer.
STEVE MARRIOTT SOLO DISCOGRAPHY:
1985 Live at Sir George Robey 10-23-85
1986 Live at Dingwalls 7-6-84
1990 Marriott and Band
1993 30 Seconds to Midnight
1996 Steve Marriotts Scrubbers
1999 Clear through the Night
1999 New Millennium
2000 Sing the Blues Live
2000 Live in Germany
2000 the Legendary Majestic Mijits
2005 Rainy Changes
2006 Tin Soldier, The Steve Marriott Anthology
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