Thursday, January 07, 2016

Humble Pie - Hot 'N' Nasty, Rockin' The Winterland US 1973

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It must have been great to be a rock fan living in England in the late 1960s. London was swinging, and the British blues-rock scene was veritably exploding, thanks to the more sophisticated of the British invasion bands (most notably the Stones and the Yardbirds), who had first gotten the scene on its feet by incorporating a distinct blues element into their own respective pop music. Soon after, Cream, Free, Savoy Brown and the mighty Led Zeppelin took over and brought the fusion of traditional American blues and guitar-based hard rock to a whole new level.

And Humble Pie was at the forefront of the whole scene, one of the most compelling acts during one of rock's most exciting and creative periods. This live recording of Humble Pie was made at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in May of 1973, during what many consider to be the band's creative peak. This Winterland show, In addition to being only the fifth show recorded for the then brand-newly syndicated King Biscuit Flower Hour radio concert series, features a blistering set of material. From "I Don't Need No Doctor" to the infectious Top 10 hit "Hot 'N Nasty," this recording features all the essential music from the Humble Pie catalogue. And since the band built their reputation on legendary live shows, this King Biscuit collection is arguably better than anything the band ever did in the recording studio.

Humble Pie first came together on New Year's Eve, 1968/69. Marriott had just played a disastrous gig with The Small Faces, whose opening act, oddly enough, was Ridley's Spooky Tooth. Frampton had already left The Herd and was forming a new band with Shirley, a child prodigy drummer, who was only 16 at the time. Marriott called Shirley after the show and asked if he and Ridley could join the new band he and Frampton were assembling. According to Shirley, he couldn't believe a singer as acclaimed as Steve Marriott was even interested, and was "thrilled" at the prospect of what the new band could achieve.

The band made its debut in April of 1969, but almost collapsed at the onset. Despite the media hoopla surrounding their supergroup status and a slew of critical raves, Humble Pie's early albums (As Safe as Yesterday Is and Town and Country - both on Oldham's Immediate label) were not commercial hits. Marriott and Frampton couldn't decide if the band should move in an acoustic or electric direction, a dilemma that made the initial records hard to market. The band also had to hit the road before they really had time to work out their live show, and early tours were mostly lackluster as a result. Then, in 1970, the tides began to turn.

The band hired Dee Anthony as its manager, who promptly signed them to A&M Records. The band recorded Humble Pie and Rock On in 1970 and '71, respectively. Both albums forged the band into a solid - and very electric - blues/rock machine. The critics got behind the band en masse, and records began selling in large numbers. By the time the band had recorded and released Rockin' The Fillmore in 1971, the word had spread: Humble Pie was the hottest live band since the Jimi Hendrix Experience. 

Just then, Frampton decided he didn't feel comfortable in the band's hard rockin' blues direction and left to pursue a solo career. While the most memorable material from Rockin' The Fillmore ("I Don't Need No Doctor," "4 Day Creep" and the soulful remake of Ray Charles' "Hallelujah I Love Her So") also appear on this King Biscuit LP, but the versions differ dramatically, as Frampton had since been replaced by Dave "Clem" Clempson.

Though some in the rock press predicted the band's demise upon Frampton's departure, the opposite seemed to happen. Clempson revitalized the band, and helped take it in an even harder direction. When the band returned in 1972 with Smokin', they had become a well-oiled rock 'n' roll dynamo. Five of the album's tracks - "Hot 'N Nasty," "30 Days In The Hole," "Road Runner," "You're So Good For Me" and Eddie Cochran's classic "C'mon Everybody" - soon became radio staples. Smokin' became a multi-platinum Top 10 smash, and remains the best selling album of the band's career.

This concert was recorded while the band was promoting Eat It!, a double LP that featured three sides of studio songs and one side of live material. Though Eat It! went to the Top 15, and Humble Pie had firmly established themselves as a powerful live act, the band's powers (and their popularity) seemed to gradually decline following this tour. The band returned in 1974 with Thunderbox, but the constant focus by the media and the fans on Steve Marriott began taking its toll within the group. 

In 1975, Humble Pie reunited in the studio with ex-manager Andrew Oldham, and recorded Street Rats, a quirky collection of tracks, including three Beatles covers. The band embarked on a "Farewell" tour, and called it a day. Soon after the demise of Humble Pie, Marriott recruited Ridley for a solo album and tour, and in 1977 and 1978, participated in an unsuccessful Small Faces reunion. Clempson joined the Jack Bruce Band, and Shirley played with Natural Gas and Magnet, neither of which saw any real commercial success.

During 1970, Humble Pie switched to A&M Records and Dee Anthony became their manager. Anthony was focused on the US market and discarded the acoustic set, instigating a more raucous sound with Marriott as the front man. The group's first album for A&M, Humble Pie, was released later that year and alternated between progressive rock and hard rock. A single, "Big Black Dog", was released to coincide with the album and failed to chart, however the band was becoming known for popular live rock shows in the US. In 1971 Humble Pie released their most successful record to date Rock On as well as a live album recorded at the Fillmore East in New York entitled Performance Rockin' the Fillmore. The live album reached No. 21 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. "I Don't Need No Doctor" was an FM radio hit in the US peaking at No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling the album up the charts. But Frampton left the band by the time the album was released and went on to enjoy success as a solo artist.

Frampton was replaced by Dave "Clem" Clempson and Humble Pie moved towards a harder sound emphasizing Marriott's blues and soul roots. Their first record with Clempson, Smokin', was released in 1972, along with two singles "Hot 'n' Nasty" and "30 Days in the Hole." It was the band's most commercially successful record, and reached No. 6 on the US charts, helped by a busy touring schedule. After the success of Smokin' the
band's record label A&M released Humble Pie's first two Immediate albums in one double album, as Lost and Found. The marketing ploy was a success and the album charted at No. 37 on the Billboard 200. Looking for a more authentic R&B sound, Marriott hired three female backing vocalists, 'The Blackberries'. 

The trio consisted of Venetta Fields, Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews who was later replaced by Billie Barnum. They had performed with Ike and Tina Turner as The Ikettes and with Ray Charles as The Raelettes. This new line-up included Sidney George on saxophone for the recording of Eat It, a double album released in 1973 made up of Marriott originals (some acoustic), R&B covers, and a Humble Pie concert recorded in Glasgow. The album peaked at No. 13 in the US charts. Thunderbox was released in 1974, and Street Rats a year later. In 1975, joined by keyboardist Tim Hinkley, Humble Pie conducted their 'Goodbye Pie Tour' before disbanding.

Steve Marriott - guitar, vocals, keyboards, harmonica
 Clem Clempson - guitar, vocals, keyboards
 Greg Ridley - bass, vocals, guitar
 Jerry Shirley - drums, keyboards

01. Up Your Sleeves 03:58
02. 4-Day Creep 03:35
03. C'mon Everybody 07:22
04. Honky Tonk Women 06:38
05. Stone Cold Fever 01:07
06. I Believe to My Soul 05:21
07. Thirty Days in a Hole 07:49
08. (I'm a) Road Runner 12:28
09. Hallelujah (I Love Her So) 07:36
10. I Don't Need No Doctor 13:05
11. Hot n' Nasty 07:21

1. Humble Pie 1973
2. Humble Pie 1973
3. Humble Pie