A month after Humble Pie’s breakthrough album, the
seventies seminal double live album ‘Performance - Rockin’ the Fillmore’,
Peter Frampton found life in ‘the Pie’ all just a bit much, and upped
sticks for a solo career. This left a great big hole in the pie so to speak.
Lead singer and original Small Faces Steve Marriott took a
quick look round and found his old guitar slinging mate Dave ‘Clem’
Clempson without a billet. Clem had been suppressing his hard rock urges within
the jazz/rock confines of Coliseum, who had just disbanded in disarray. Thus he
was ready and eager to get it on in the Pie.
The combination was unstoppable and the Pie went onto even
greater heights. All albums went Top Ten internationally, and the Pies found
themselves at the very top of the rock ‘n’ roll tree.
At the prime of their powers they performed a concert for
America’s famous music radio show King Biscuit Flower Hour at the Winterland
theater in San Francisco (6 May 1973), which has now been released on CD. The
band was promoting their ‘Eat It’ album and for the tour had added three
sultry American lady backup singers, known collectively as the Blackberries.
They gave the music a whole new dimension without taking away any of the Pie
After the opening salvo of the perfect opener ‘Up Our
Sleeves’ and Ida Cox’s ‘Four Day Creep’, Clempson’s and Marriott’s
guitars get down and dirty on Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’mon Everybody’.
Marriott’s chunky guitar riffs are overlaid by Clempson’s sharp-like guitar
licks, and backed up by Greg Ridley’s thunderous bass, the powerhouse
drumming of Jerry Shirley, and, of course, the Blackberries. Clempson gets to
do his Keef Richards thing all over Honky Tonk Woman; and Steve Marriot does
his very best Ray Charles impressions on ‘Blues I Believe To My Soul’.
A nod is given to past debts with a rockin’ version of
Peter Frampton’s ‘Stone Cold Fever’, ‘Thirty Days In The Hole’, and
‘Roadrunner’, they are stretched out by the gospel according to Steve
Marriott. Greg Ridley gets a chance to show off his vocal chops during a
complete re-vamping of ‘Hallelujah, I Love Her So’. The set proper is
brought to a rousing conclusion by a twelve minute barnstorming ‘I Don’t
Need No Doctor’, Humble Pie’s anthem.
Naturally the audience demands the band comes back for an
encore. They duly obliged and serve up a hefty slice of ‘Hot ‘n’ Nasty’
before leaving the crowd still wanting more.
In between songs you are treated to Steve Marriott’s
spontaneous cockney raps, where he demonstrates why he was regarded as one of
the finest singers to ever come from the British Isles, although I do suggest
you put your hands over any children’s ears. I wonder if these little bits of
Marriott wisdom went out live over the airwaves or were they bleeped out?
Admittedly, it all went a bit stale later for the Pie, but
for those of you who know Pie’s famous live album ‘Performance’ trust me,
this is even better.