A showcase for former Small Faces’ frontman Steve Marriott and one-time Herd guitar virtuoso Peter Frampton, the hard rock outfit Humble Pie formed in Essex, England in 1969. Also featuring ex-Spooky Tooth bassist Greg Ridley along with drummer Jerry Shirley, the fledgling group spent the first several months of its existence locked away in Marriott’s Essex cottage, maintaining a relentless practice schedule. Signed to the Immediate label, Humble Pie soon issued their debut single “Natural Born Boogie,” which hit the British Top Ten and paved the way for the group’s premiere LP, As Safe as Yesterday Is.
After touring the U.S. in support of 1969’s Town and Country, Humble Pie returned home only to discover that Immediate had declared bankruptcy. The band recruited a new manager, Dee Anthony, who helped land them a new deal with A&M; behind closed doors, Anthony encouraged Marriott to direct the group towards a harder-edged, grittier sound far removed from the acoustic melodies favored by Frampton. As Marriott’s raw blues shouting began to dominate subsequent LPs like 1970’s eponymous effort and 1971’s Rock On, Frampton’s role in the band he co-founded gradually diminished; finally, after a highly charged U.S. tour which yielded 1971’s commercial breakthrough Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore, Frampton exited Humble Pie to embark on a solo career.
After enlisting former Colosseum guitarist Dave “Clem” Clempson to fill the void, Humble Pie grew even heavier for 1972’s Smokin’, their most successful album to date. However, while 1973’s ambitious double studio/live set Eat It fell just shy of the Top Ten, its 1974 follow-up Thunderbox failed to crack the Top 40. After 1975’s Street Rats reached only number 100 before disappearing from the charts, Humble Pie disbanded; while Shirley formed Natural Gas with Badfinger alum Joey Molland, and Clempson and Ridley teamed with Cozy Powell in Strange Brew, Marriott led Steve Marriott’s All-Stars before joining a reunited Small Faces in 1977.
In 1980, Marriott and Shirley re-formed Humble Pie with ex-Jeff Beck Group vocalist Bobby Tench and bassist Anthony Jones. After a pair of LPs, 1980’s On to Victory and the following year’s Go for the Throat, the group mounted a troubled tour of America: after one injury-related interruption brought on when Marriott mangled his hand in a hotel door, the schedule was again derailed when the frontman fell victim to an ulcer. Soon, Humble Pie again dissolved; while Shirley joined Fastway, Marriott went into seclusion. At the dawn of the 1990s, he and Frampton made tentative plans to begin working together once more, but on April 20, 1991, Marriott died in the fire which destroyed his 16th century Arkesden cottage. He was 44 years old. (by Jason Ankeny)
And here´s a Humble Pie album that’s remained in the vaults since 1975.
Joint Effort comes out on Feb. 8, and finds the band recording in its own Clear Sounds studio between 1974 and 1975. But the album was ultimately rejected by their label at the time, A&M.
The LP’s title reflects the work made by Steve Marriott and bassist Greg Ridley on a project outside of the band at the time. But after a stretch where Marriott unsuccessfully lobbied to be Mick Taylor’s replacement in the Rolling Stones and the group saw its U.S. profile raised due to Eat It and Smokin’, they reconvened with guitarist Dave Clempson and drummer Jerry Shirley.
In addition to never-before-heard originals, Joint Effort contains covers of songs recorded by the Beatles (“Rain”), Betty Wright (“Let Me Be Your Lovemaker”) and James Brown (“Think”). The first two tracks eventually made their way onto Street Rats, the last album Humble Pie made with the classic lineup.
“Everything was so self-destructive at that point,” Shirley recalled of that period. “Everybody was doing everything in a dozen different directions and nothing was getting done. … Steve’s way of dealing with things was buying an ounce of coke every other day and burying himself in his studio. When you’ve got nothing but carte blanche studio time and all the coke in the world, all you do is record.” (Dave Lifton)
As someone who has always been a huge fan of Humble Pie and all things Steve Marriott the news that a new album that had “remained in the vaults since 1975 will finally be released next month” was like several Christmases coming all at once. ‘Joint Effort’ duly arrived for review and as I tend to do when I review, I read nothing about it and did not research anything until I’d had a few spins and got my initial thoughts down.
Recorded in their own Clear Sounds Studio between 1974 and 1975, the album we have here contains the music put together by Steve Marriott and Greg Ridley as a side project before Pie gained momentum again due to the classic albums ‘Eat It’ and ‘Smokin” taking hold in the U.S. As a result Pie regrouped with Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson and Jerry Shirley and the recordings were ultimately rejected by A&M.
Sounded great, but even glancing at the tracklisting that first time made me wonder if maybe this collection of “never-before-heard originals, (and) covers of songs recorded by the Beatles (“Rain”), Betty Wright (“Let Me Be Your Lovemaker”) and James Brown (“Think”)” was indeed something new.
I mean re=recorded versions of ‘Rain’ and “Let Me Be Your Lovemaker’ were both on the bands 1975 album ‘Street Rats’ then as soon as the metaphorical ‘needle hit the groove’ I realised that this album hasn’t exactly languished in the vaults since 1975 – I already had a copy of it titled ‘Running With the Pack’ which saw release on Alchemy Entertainment a mere 20 years ago in 1999! Not only that the Alchemy release also contained four live tracks from what was then at the time Humble Pie’s last show in the States in 1973.
Of course if you’re a ‘Pie’ fan then you’ll still be interested if you haven’t picked up that prior release (or the limited edition reissue on the same label in 2003). The sessions (or demos as Alchemy perhaps more correctly called them) feature the line-up of Steve Marriott, Greg Ridley, Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson, and Jerry Shirley, and do see the band focussing more on the Rhythm and Blues and Soul aspects of their sound than the harder edged Rock.
The one and only Dave Clempson:
Notwithstanding the fact that these sessions are 50% covers (and you have to remember that Pie were the masters of taking a song and twisting it to make it their own), there is some great material here.
After the blazin’ funk of ‘Think’ which to me just reconfirms that Marriott had one of the best soul voices out there come the soulful ‘This Ol’ World’ and ‘Midnight Of My Life’ which do suggest a more soulful future for the Pie. But it’s Betty Wright’s ‘Let Me Be Your Lovemaker’ that really outshines here – all blues fueled hard rocking bluster that sees Ridley take lead vocal (‘Street Rats’ sees and even heavier version of the song).
The Beatles ‘Rain’ gets the party treatment and the best original here – ‘Snakes & Ladders’ returns to the hard rock, and ‘Good Thing’ adds more blues, before the emotion, piano and blues of the again Ridley sung ‘A Minute Of Your Time.’ We close with a funky rocker from Marriott ‘Charlene’ and an instrumental take on the song that kicked us off in ‘Think 2.’
Oddly despite the line-up at the time the cover shot of this ‘re-issue’ prominently features Peter Frampton (who left the band four years before this album was recorded) rather than ‘Clem’ Clempson who replaced him in the band, it’s rather poor form from the label.
The big mystery of course is why this album was shelved in the first place as it’s just as good as the albums that followed it. (Mark Diggins)
And … I just can’t understand why they used pictures from the Peter Framptron period for the cover and the booklet.
Dave Clempson (guitar)
Steve Marriott (guitar, vocals, keyboards, harmonica)
Greg Ridley (bass, vocals)
Jerry Shirley (drums, percussion)
unknown brass section
01. Think (Brown) 3.47
02. This Ol’ World (Ridley/Marriott) 3.28
03. Midnight Of My Life (Marriott) 4.04
04. Let Me Be Your Lovemaker (Wright/Reid/Clarke) 4.49
05. Rain (Lennon/McCartney) 5.55
06. Snakes & Ladders (Marriott) 3.59
07. Good Thing (Ridley/Marriott) 1.56
08. A Minute Of Your Time (Ridley) 3.47
09. Charlene (Marriott) 4.14
10. Think 2 (Brown) 3.35