Thursday, November 24, 2011
HUMBLE PIE - EAT IT
Too much free time on my hands is a dangerous thing because that means I can check ALL of the bins at used record stores. The kids today are buying lots of vinyl, and that's a good thing, but an even better thing is that they're ignoring all the great classic rock albums they've never been exposed to. This is where I come in. Used Johnny Winter and Joe Walsh albums for 3 or 4 bucks in decent shape - how can I not give them a good home next to their long lost friends Robin Trower and Mountain? So when I found this very nice copy of Humble Pie's Eat It for about 10 bucks there was no hesitation. It needed to be reunited with of Smokin, Thunderbox and, of course, Performance: Rockin' The Fillmore on my shelf. Eat It was released in 1973, a year that I've gone on record here many times saying it might be the best year for rock (Tres Hombres, Raw Power, Billion Dollar Babies!). Eat It is not as monumental as any of those records but it's still a great album and one that deserves a place in every heavy rock fan's library. Each side of this double album is a different thing. Side one is all hard rock songs, side two is covers of soul tunes, side three is acoustic and side four is live and loud in concert. No matter what kind of party you're having, Humble Pie have got you covered.
Side one rocks hard with kick ass songs like "Get Down To It" and "Good Booze and Bad Women." These are very much in the vein of the songs on 1972's great Smokin' album. "Is It For Love" is a moody R&B influenced song and "Drugstore Cowboy" is faster and funkier. Steve Marriott's vocals are excellent as always and the band really grooves. Very few English bands could play authentic R&B and a lot of that has to do with the Pie's killer rhythm section of Greg Ridley (bass) and Jerry Shirley (drums). These guys can really swing. Clem Clempson and Steve make a great guitar team.
Most rock bands trying to play soul music is pretty much a joke, but Steve's vocals have the range and expression needed for the material. Ike & Tina's "Black Coffee" is given a real workout. What a groove! Edwin Starr's "Shut Up & Don't Interrupt Me" is a lot of fun. There are also dramatic versions of the Ray Charles classic "I Believe To My Soul" (also covered by the MC5 in their live show) and Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is." Good side for when you're trying to convince a lady to move to the backseat of your car. If that doesn't work, side three might do the trick. Four acoustic, bluesy songs all written by Steve Marriott. "Say No More," "Oh Bella" and "Summer Song" are more back porch than the kind of mystical acoustic stuff that Led Zeppelin would do. The last song "Beckton Dumps" is more uptempo and has some electric guitar on it.
Once you drop the young lady off at the end of the night, it's time to CRANK UP side four and rock the fuck out. Recorded live in Glasgow, this is Humble Pie at their finest. "Up Our Sleeve" is not only one of Humble Pie's greatest songs, but it's also one of the most kick ass jams you will ever hear. Flat out, balls to the wall, driving rock n roll. This version is slightly less ferocious than the one that was later issued on Humble Pie's awesome King Biscuit CD recorded on this tour. The rest of side four is taken up with a good version of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman" and an extended jam on Junior Walker's "Road Runner."
Humble Pie rocked like no other. They were such a potent band, it's a shame that they don't get more recognition. The domestic CD of Eat It is out of print but the import is still available. But the best way to experience this is on vinyl. The double album comes with a very cool booklet glued inside the gatefold sleeve with illustrations and action live shots. Musically, it also makes much more sense when you change the sides. Either way, it's a great record. And if you don't like it - EAT IT!