Humble Pie, Smokin’ (1972)
Good times had by all. And by all, I mean everybody. Some records just don’t take no for an answer, and that’s Humble Pie‘s 1972 LP, Smokin‘, all the way. The UK heavy rockers’ fifth full-length, it was also the first after guitarist Peter Frampton split, only to be replaced by Clem Clempson (Colosseum) in the lineup alongside guitarist/vocalist/founder Steve Marriott (Small Faces), bassist/vocalist Greg Ridley (Spooky Tooth) and drummer Jerry Shirley. It’s also unquestionably their biggest album, released by A&M Records and powered by the landmark single “30 Days in the Hole,” which opens side B, but of course it’s a far richer offering when taken front to back than that ultra-hook can fully convey, and whether it’s the guest spot Stephen Stills puts in on organ and vocals for “Hot and Nasty” — which lives up to its name — or the driving heavy rock and roll of closer “Sweet Peace and Time,” Smokin’ is a classic through and through in performance, songwriting, and vibe. Like I said, good times had by all.
Like a lot of acts of the era, particularly 1970-1973, Humble Pie were taken with a post-Cream blues sensibility, but they cleaned up the boogie with a slice of funk, as one can plainly hear on cuts like “The Fixer” — a Marriott original; compare to Cactus‘ slowed down take on “Long Tall Sally,” released the year before — or the ultra-friendly Eddie Cochran cover “C’mon Everybody,” both of which appear on the first half of the record. One can debate whether or not “You’re so Good for Me,” with its churchgoing acoustic blues foundation, piano and underlying rhythmic swing, was anything that Parliament hadn’t already been doing for three years at that point, but Humble Pie would hardly be the first of the English rock set to borrow from American black culture — or, for that matter, the American set, or any other — and the twanging context of “Old Time Feeling,” the jam on the Junior Walker cover “Road Runner” and the bluesy sprawl of “I Wonder,” Smokin‘ could hardly be accused of being one-dimensional in that regard. Marriott‘s interplay with background singers in “30 Days in the Hole” is likewise an aspect drawn out of soul and R&B, but Humble Pie marry it to rock heft and impact in a way that would help shape the model an entire generation of acts followed.
The band continued for a long time after Smokin’, with various lineups, various players taking control of the name, and so on. When Steve Marriott died in a house fire in 1991, Greg Ridley held the reins on their by-then formidable legacy, and after he died of pneumonia in 2003, Jerry Shirley toured with a lineup as Humble Pie and derivations thereof as well. When the Smokin’ incarnation of Humble Pie split in 1975, Clempson hooked up with Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck, Black Sabbath, etc.) in Strange Brew and went on to do film work and play backing a whole swath of distinguished acts and solo artists from the era, be it Jack Bruce or Bob Dylan.
As always, I hope you enjoy. I’ve wanted to close out a week with Smokin’ for a long time, and as it’s Universal at this point who owns the label group to which A&M Records belongs, the album rarely stays on YouTube long. But even when it gets removed, the record’s been reissued more times than I can count, so it’s not like it’s not readily accessible, and hell, if you’re reading this, you probably own a copy already anyway. So just go grab it and put it on. And again, enjoy.
Quick week. Needed one. Not free of stress by any stretch of the imagination, but could be worse. The Patient Mrs. and I put our townhouse on the market this week. Monday we had a photographer in to take pictures. You can see our collectible plate with Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the kitchen shot (because yes, it hangs in the kitchen) and my Candlemass promotional wall hanging for their 2005 self-titled reunion album in the office, but other than that, the place looks good. I take no credit for any of it. The Patient Mrs. took the idea and ran with it and basically the plan is to see what we can get for the place before we decide if we’re actually going to move. If we do go anywhere, it’ll be south a bit, probably to Rhode Island if we can, or otherwise near the border. We can just inch our way toward living in Connecticut (the dream) one domicile at a time for the next 35 years. That’ll be fine.
Open house on Sunday, if you’re free. Someone’s coming in this morning to clean, so hopefully by then the place won’t be re-covered in dog hair.
Before I get to next week’s stuff — there’s a lot of it — let me just say that if you didn’t get to check out the Zaum album stream that went up yesterday, you should do so. I turned 35 this week and every year I decide to write about something special on my birthday to treat myself, and this year I wrote about Zaum on the day before the post went up as my little present to me. So yeah, if you haven’t dug into that, obviously I think it’s worth your time.
Also had a blast writing the Asteroid review that went up this morning, so there’s that as well.
Okay, next week. Of course it’s subject to change, but here’s the current plan:
Monday: Full album stream and review for the new Albez Duz.
Tuesday: A Devil to Pay album review and a Droids Attack video/audio premiere that’s going to be really cool.
Wednesday: A full stream and review of the new Scissorfight EP.
Thursday: A one-two combo review of new stuff from Mos Generator and a video premiere and big news from Geezer.
Friday: Pending, obviously, but right now I’ve got a review of the solo debut from Magnus Pelander of Witchcraft.
That’s what’s slated as of today. Could shift around some. I’ve already pushed that Pelander review back considerably.
Any video gamers out there? I bought myself a tablet last weekend (I guess that was actually the birthday present to myself; got a Samsung one on the cheap) and have been playing Final Fantasy V on it as I’ve never actually played that one and IV is my favorite game of all time and VI is an ultra-classic as well. They’ve got Final Fantasy XV coming out next month and I’m considering preordering a PS4 Pro to play it. Anyway, just some nerd stuff that has me excited. If you’re down, awesome. If not, sorry for the aside.
My mother and sister’s son are coming north tomorrow to spend the day and stay over to Sunday, so lots going on this weekend between that and the open house. Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a great one. Stay safe and have fun and please check out the forum and radio stream.