Your Big Sister’s (Record) Rack: “Smokin’,” Humble Pie
OK, enough of the video and back to some old records – this is the stuff that your big sister or big brother had, the stuff that might have been kinda famous back in the day. Today we remember Humble Pie’s Smokin’, from 1972.
Humble Pie was, of course, the British rock band that started in 1969 with lead singer Steve Marriott (formerly of the Small Faces), bass player Greg Ridley (Spooky Tooth), 17-year-old drummer Jerry Shirley and a pretty-boy guitarist and singer named Peter Frampton. Frampton made four studio albums (and another live album) with Humble Pie before departing for a solo career in 1971.
Smokin’ was the first album with new guitarist Dave “Clem” Clempson, and Marriott was in full control. So Humble Pie became a boogie-blues band which, in the days of Alice Cooper and David Bowie, made them seem like a real throwback. With Marriott firmly in charge, excess was everywhere – Junior Walker’s “Road Runner” slows down to a near-painful crawl before it segues into “Road Runner ‘G’ Jam,” a ridiculous bit of nonsense featuring Stephen Stills on organ.
But the album had highlights, too: a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody” that’s pretty raucous, “Hot and Nasty,” the album opener with Marriott wailing on organ as well as on vocals, and the radio hit “30 Days In The Hole.” This was Humble Pie’s most commercially successful album, but rock critics of the day hated it (naturally). The band would have another high point the next year with the double album Eat It, which followed basically the same pattern as Smokin’ … but it was twice as long. The Pie disbanded in 1975 but occasionally Marriott or Shirley would front a new version of the band with little success. In 1991 Marriott was in serious discussion with Peter Frampton to team up on a new musical project, but Marriott died that year in a house fire.
Smokin’ is a great way to remember the glorious FM radio of the early 1970s and with Rock On and Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore (both from 1971, and both with Frampton), a great way to remember a beloved rock band.