Friday, August 25, 2017

Humble Pie 4: Rock On

Rock On is a fitting title for the fourth Humble Pie album. At this point they’d traveled away from the light-and-shade juxtapositions of the first album, and concentrated on heavier-sounding tunes. That meant a little less Peter Frampton, but he’s still there.
Some kind of law decreed that every band needed a song called “Shine On” in their repertoire, and Frampton delivers here. Shaky Jake returns for a cameo on “Sour Grain”, a pretty ballsy tune that slows down profound near the end, and effect that’s immediately dispelled by the barroom boogie of “79th And Sunset”; per usual Steve Marriott gets in some good rhymes. The first great riff of the album arrives on “Stone Cold Fever”, everybody contributing to the overall feel, and then some, since Marriott couldn’t blow hard and play guitar like that at the same time. It’s an immediate segue to their ultra-slow take on Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone”, which only encourages tastier fretwork and an inspired (comparative) rave-up.
That only makes “A Song For Jenny” seem even more tender, but the band soon kicks in along with the so-called Soul Sisters (the eternal voices of P.P. Arnold, Doris Troy, and Claudia Lennear). “The Light” isn’t one of Frampton’s better tunes, but he was still ahead of the game. Besides, Greg Ridley’s “Big George” is so dopey it’s fun, and that would indeed be Bobby Keys on sax. The jazzy piano lead-in to “Strange Days” again recalls Traffic of the same era, even with the delay effect of the vocals. A drawn-out ending seems to lead directly to another tune, this time the ‘50s-inspired “Red Neck Jump”, complete with “shoo-waddy” backups.
Developments in due time would lead to this album being just slightly overshadowed, and we’ll get to that. Rock On is good fun, even if it takes a while to get there. Again.

Humble Pie Rock On (1971)—3

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