Pawed by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
5 Stars *****
Humble Pie, without doubt, was one of the best live
acts on the scene in the early seventies. They built up one of the largest
ever traveling group of supporters following them from gig to gig on their
22 tours of the U.S.A. Yes, that’s right. 22 nationwide tours of the
United States of America during their six year career - not counting the
European tours. It was live when they were at their best.
On ‘Performance’ you can hear a band at the
absolute pinnacle of their powers. It was recorded at Bill Graham’s
Fillmore East on their last appearance there in June of 1971, just two
years after they had formed, and only a month before Peter Frampton left
the band. He was a physical and mental wreck after trying to keep up with
the rest of the band in their rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle off stage.
However, this had no effect on his playing at this concert, which is truly
remarkable considering the young Frampton was only 21 at the time.
Pie was formed in 1969 mainly due to four young musicians feeling
frustrated in their present bands. Steve Marriott had had enough of ‘The
Small Faces’ (he was eventually replaced by Messrs. Ronnie Wood and
Rodney Stewart and the band renamed “The Faces”), Peter Frampton
(voted ‘The Face of 68’ by Teen Magazine) was having similar problems
with his band ‘The Herd’, Greg Ridley was in ‘Spooky Tooth’, and
Jerry Shirley was discovered by Peter Frampton and described as an up and
coming John Bonham. Praise indeed, and very well merited.
At first ‘The Pie’ got off on the wrong foot,
falling into old traps - releasing two albums of soft/pop/rock and having
a hit single in ‘Natural Born Bugie’. But, after being dumped by
record company IMSP, manager Dee Anthony called a band meeting, Steve
Marriott was made official band leader, all acoustic and soft rock
aspirations were put on hold and their rock and rolling feelings were
nailed to the mast.
A&M Records immediately snapped them up. They
released two rock ‘n’ roll style Pie albums, the self-titled ‘Humble
Pie’ in July 1970 which was followed by the aptly titled ‘Rock On’
The sales of their first two albums had been good, but
not exactly earth shattering. So band management and record company
decided to go for broke and release what had become the early seventies
stock in trade for all major acts ‘The Double Live Album’. (This
premise also worked remarkably well for Peter Frampton later in his solo
career, when after years of obscurity he rocketed to superstardom on the
back of his double live album ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. It is still the
biggest selling live double album ever.)
While Eddie Kramer set up his recording equipment at
the Fillmore West he caught ‘The Pie’ on what is popularly known as
‘on night’. The Pies’ set for the Fillmore was made up of seven
numbers. However, only one of which could actually be called a ‘Pie’
original, such was the band penchant for re-adapting the work of those
from which they took influence.
After a brief announcement the band led straight into
their perennial opener Ida Cox’s ‘Four Day Creep’. Both the guitars
of Frampton and Marriott belt out the riff before Ridley and Shirley come
rattling in proving the rhythm section has become as tight and heavy as a
Geoffrey Boycott forward defensive shot.
This sets the standard for a hard rocking night. Before
the Willie Dixon number ‘I’m Ready’ (if you are going to cover
somebody at least cover the best) you get some marvelous interaction
between the voice of Steve Marriott, the guitar of Peter Frampton, and the
From here on out it’s full on rock ‘n’ roll with
‘The Pie’ proving why they are without doubt one of the most
fulfilling bands of their era.
‘Stone Cold Fever’ is performed with such fervor
and relish that it proves the point that ‘The Pie’ was a live band.
They leave the version from the studio album ‘Rock On’ for cold.
The album’s centerpiece is ‘I Walk on Gilded
Splinters’, originally by Dr. John, but ‘The Pie’ stretch it out to
a full 23 minutes and 30 seconds, along the way proving that not only
could ‘The Pie’ rock, but without doubt they were musicians of a
caliber of any of their contemporaries.
Closing the set at the Fillmore is ‘The Pie’s’
version of Muddy Water’s ‘Rolling Stone’. At the beginning of this
16-minute opus Steve Marriott sings, “I’m going to sing you a song in
two parts” and, after the intro, goes into a highly amusing rap about
life on the rock ‘n’ roll road of America. This is purely Steve
Marriott, very seventies, very funny, and listening to it in this day and
age wonderfully politically incorrect. ‘The Pie’ brings the set to a
rocking climax as they go into the second part of the song on eleven and
bring the house down. The conclusion of ‘Rolling Stone’ is amongst the
most exciting 5 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll ever recorded on tape. It is
simply a matter of going for the throat. Musicians cannot learn to be this
exciting, it’s either in their blood or it’s not.
The final two numbers we are given here are the
encores. (Remembering ‘The Pie’ had to follow themselves here.) First
we get ‘Hallelujah (I love Her So)’, where Peter Frampton turns in a
blistering solo and Steve Marriott enjoys himself immensely imitating Ray
Then the number which ‘The Pie’ turned into their
own and would never be allowed to leave the stage without playing,
Ashford/Simpson/Armstead’s ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’. This song’s
title alone tells you everything about the band. The way the audience
roars as the whole band pile into the song confirms its own story, 10
minutes of rock ‘n’ roll heaven with the band bringing the levels of
excitement to those of the final 5 minutes of ‘Rolling Stone’.
Steve Marriott - Vocals, Guitar
Peter Frampton - Vocals, Guitar
Greg Ridley - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Jerry Shirley - Drums
Four Day Creep
Stone Cold Fever
Walk on Gilded Splinter
Hallelujah (I Just Love Her So)
I Don’t Need No Doctor
To contact Mott the Dog email: