This is quintessential Humble Pie – hard rockin’ 70s riffs with a hint of blues and soul. All of the “Make your hair stand on end” energy that you heard on the live “Rockin the Fillmore” is captured on this studio album. This is easily the best-recorded studio effort from the Pie, as the sound is right up front and you can almost feel the sweat. This is their first record without Peter Frampton, but Dave Clemson more than fills his shoes with his bluesy stylings on guitar. Everything was firing on all cylinders when they made this record. You won’t be disappointed…
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Oh yes, Humble Pie was a hot band in the seventies, and this album is a consistent, groovy, hard rockin’ effort. It is a satisfying CD from beginning to end, I only wish the jam in “Road Runners” could be stretched much more (you know, the time limitations of the original vynil format.If you know the band, then you know what to expect: blues-based rock ‘n’ roll with great vocals by Steve Marriott. I read somewhere that Humble Pie was the “missing link between Janis Joplin and ACDC”, and it makes some sense. But in this album, you’re gonna find much more of the blues, even though “Sweet Peace and Time” is a hell of a hard rock slab.There are great rockin’ and uplifting songs: ” Hot and Nasty”, “C’mon everybody”, “30 Days in the hole”. That’s precisely the kind of songs the Black Crowes try to write. Well, the original is very good.”You’re so good to me” is a ballad. “Old Time Feeling” a pub acoustic blues (brit pastiche, but that’s ok). “I wonder” is a highly electrified, thunderous-ending slow-blues (running 8 minutes, there’s time for the harmonica solo). “Road Runners” is funky and “The Pusher” rocks hard, in a slow to medium tempo. The vocals are always hot, the guitar riffs and solos right to the point, and some keyboard makes “Hot and Nasty” and “Road Runner” even spicier.That’s it. Great fun for people who like seventies rock’n'roll.
Forget Jagger and the Stones.
Stevie Marriott was THE MAN.
Stevie Marriott and Humble Pie were THE BEST British Hard-Rock band of the early 1970s. Who else but that little dervish with the monster vocals could rush from one end of the stage to the other in seconds, then strut his stuff from back at the drum set to the very front mike to deliver a blistering wail or put down some solid licks off his Black Les Paul? Ever see Jagger do that? Or Stewart?? Roger Daltrey???
Nah, none of them had the energy of Marriott who could do all of what they did and with a guitar strapped to him. He was the consummate frontman – screamin’ Steve and played guitar with wild abandon.
“Smokin’” found Marriott at the peak of his powers and of his career. He proved, on this album, that even with the departure of Peter Frampton, the Pie was a Rock and Roll force to be reckoned with. “Black Lebanese, It Got You Weak in Your Knees. Newcastle Brown…” – and who can forget “You Take A Greasy Whore Add A Rolling Dance Floor” – Heh Heh – the lyrics of that great rock and roll song “Thirty Days in the Hole” which epitomizes the rock power of this album.
But wait there’s more – much more. Besides “30 Days” there was “Hot and Nasty” with Marriott wailing on both voice and organ, tasty licks provided by Clem Clempson, the solid bass and drums of Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley, and backing vocals courtesy of Stephen (yep, that’s right) Stills and Rick “Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Bad Company” Wills; that raucous version of Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”, Ridley and Marriott’s “Sweet Peace and Time”, and Ridley (with Clem) on “Old Time Feeling”. The Pie – fuelled by Marriott’s voice, the twin guitar energy of Marriott and Clempson, and the driving rhythm section of Ridley and Shirley, Nah, Nothin’ could be finer.
There wasn’t a bad track on this album, excepting perhaps “Road Runner’s C Jam” which was recording in the jam spirit of the 1970s but perhaps a tad too long.”Smokin’” was indeed one of the best Rock and Roll albums and arguably the Pie’s best. Unfortunately by the next year and the next album Marriott had pushed his I wanna be Wilson Pickett too far, his drug use had become too excessive, his marriage went kaput, and the Pie went downhill fast. Had Marriott stayed stable, energetic and the Pie remained on that hard rock formula, who knows? They very well might have given the Stones a run for their money. At any rate, when the Pie dissolved in ‘75, Stone(d) Keith Richards was so taken with Marriott’s vocal abilities and guitar prowess (they had been friends for years) that he placed him on the short list to replace Mick Taylor. Evidently during Marriott’s rehearsal with the Stones he got so carried away and enthused that Mick Jagger was so intimidated that he sternly told Richards – NO MARRIOTT.
And don’t forget Jimmy Page years earlier had approached Marriott to join a band he was forming called Led Zeppelin, only to be told by Marriott’s then-manager Don Arden (yes, Sharon Osbourne’s daddy)that he could only do so if he wanted his legs broken!
Even during the post-Pie period, with a voice wrecked from a few too many catawails and too much good booze and bad drugs, Marriott could still wow an audience.
No doubt Marriott was one of the best rock and roll frontmen, but also one of Britain’s finest showmen in the Cockney Music Hall tradition too. His sad death – smoking in bed after returning to Britain following recordings with Peter Frampton in 1991 – deprived rock and roll of one of the absolute greats.
GOOD GAWD Y’ALL!!!!! I’m browsin’ the reviews to this album and there is a certain nuance that they’re not quite catching-THIS IS ONE OF THE THE GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME!!! STEVE MARRIOT IS A GOD!!!! Like the Black Crowes? Like Led Zeppelin? Do your ears perk up to a rude bluesy refrain? Then put this CD on and BOW AT THE FEET OF THE MASTER! The two greatest blues rock singers of all time are Steve Marriot and ….. STEVE FRIGGIN’ MARRIOT. “Thirty Days In The Hole” I want to do drugs! “Roadrunner” I want to have casual sex! “Hot ‘n Nasty” I want to have casual sex with girls on drugs! STOP READING THIS!!!! Buy this album and shut up already! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??????
This domestic “Smokin’” CD, along with the rest of the domestic Pie discs, are still the same crappy, 35+ year old, vinyl-EQ’d masters, which all sound like music emanating from an AM radio: No bottom, no definition, no soundstage, nothing.
*** HOWEVER ***
On 2/14/07, Universal Japan released the entire A&M catalog, plus the “Marriott” solo album, in remastered mini-sleeves. These remasters are GLORIOUS. It’s so great to finally hear all the great Smokin’ tracks the way the band recorded them.
You will not believe the transformation of the Pie rhythm section in the new mastering; Greg Ridley THUNDERS, and you can hear every bass note so distinctly, it sounds like you’re standing right next to his cabinet… Man, this is how it’s SUPPOSED to sound!
Be aware, however, that there was a 2002 previous Japan “Smokin’” mini-sleeve that was NOT remastered. The blue obi pictured above is the 2002 release. I have loaded the image of the 2007 version, and its black obi, above.
Four of the five 2007 Japanese remasters are now the audio benchmarks for these titles: The 2006 UK Repertoire version of the third album, “Humble Pie”, definitely has more clarity than the Japanese version, especially in the drums.
Perhaps now, Universal U.S. will get up off its lazy collective a** and make these fabulous remasters available. Until that day, grab the Japanese CD’s before they’re gone, as all mini-sleeve CD’s are limited edition.
Link to the 2007 Japanese remaster of Smokin’.
2009 UPDATE: Japan has re-released the mini-sleeve remaster!
WHAT IS A JAPAN “MINI-LP-SLEEVE” CD?
Have you ever lamented the loss of one of the 20th Century’s great art forms, the 12″ vinyl LP jacket? Then “mini-LP-sleeve” CD’s may be for you.
Mini-sleeve CDs are manufactured in Japan under license. The disc is packaged inside a 135MM X 135MM cardboard precision-miniature replica of the original classic vinyl-LP album. Also, anything contained in the original LP, such as gatefolds, booklets, lyric sheets, posters, printed LP sleeves, stickers, embosses, special LP cover paper/inks/textures and/or die cuts, are precisely replicated and included. An English-language lyric sheet is always included, even if the original LP did not have printed lyrics.
Then, there’s the sonic quality: Often (but not always), mini-sleeves have dedicated remastering (20-Bit, 24-Bit, DSD, K2/K2HD, and/or HDCD), and can often (but not always) be superior to the audio on the same title anywhere else in the world. There also may be bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Each Japan mini-sleeve has an “obi” (“oh-bee”), a removable Japan-language promotional strip. The obi lists the Japan street date of that particular release, the catalog number, the mastering info, and often the original album’s release date. Bonus tracks are only listed on the obi, maintaining the integrity of the original LP artwork. The obi’s are collectable, and should not be discarded.
All mini-sleeve releases are limited edition, but re-pressings/re-issues are becoming more common (again, not always). The enthusiasm of mini-sleeve collecting must be tempered, however, with avoiding fake mini-sleeves manufactured in Russia and distributed throughout the world, primarily on eBay. They are inferior in quality, worthless in collectable value, a total waste of money, and should be avoided at all costs.