Humble Pie – Smokin’ (Review)

Humble Pie was one of those 70s bands that struggled to capture their magic in the studio before scoring big with a live album. But following the success of the essential Performance: Rockin’ The Fillmore they were then faced with the challenge of coming up with a satisfactory studio follow up. An even more daunting prospect given that the supergroup was now rendered considerably less “super” following the departure of founding member Peter Frampton.

Frampton felt that the audience had decided the heavy blues rock direction that The Pie had to go in and that meant the pastoral acoustic diversity that he contributed to previous albums was no longer required. The accepted narrative is that the band’s first post-Frampton outing, 1972’s Smokin’, is a harder rocking affair but that’s only partly true. The whole album is more consistently rooted in soulful, bluesy rock but there’s still plenty of mellow diversity. So for every hard-riffing track like Fixer you get an Exile On Main Street-style rootsy outing like Old Time Feelin’.

But the standout moments of Smokin’ are undoubtedly the louder tracks. The smouldering boogie of Hot N’ Nasty, a fat riffing cover of C’Mon Everybody and the superbly greasy rocker 30 Days In The Hole are all brilliant showcases for the peerless vocal power of Steve Marriott and the guitar chemistry he forged with new recruit Clem Clempson. The mellow tracks aren’t as exciting or memorable but tracks like the Zep-blues of I Wonder impress and add crucial depth and variety.

Smokin’ lives up to its name. It’s a rockin’, feel-good time with a loose and natural production and delivery that successfully captures the band’s live prowess. A gradual, coke-fuelled decline in quality on subsequent albums makes this Humble Pie’s studio peak and ensured that the band would remain overlooked and under-rated, especially in their native UK. But fans of rootsy rockers like The Stones, The Faces and Cream (as well as more modern acolytes like The Black Crowes) should definitely check out The Pie and Smokin’ is the perfect place to start: a great band and legendary frontman at the top of their game, proving that they could rock in the studio just as well as they could in the Fillmore.

HMO Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[Humble Pie – 30 Days In The Hole]

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24 thoughts on “Humble Pie – Smokin’ (Review)”

    1. That’s no excuse, I wasn’t even born yet hahaha! Seriously though, this is well worth checking out if you like the bands I mention in the post. And cause you like KISS you really should check out Performance Rockin’ The Fillmore! HUGE influence on KISS.

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      1. I know I have know excuse considering I have listened to all the Beatles, the Stones and even Sinatra’s works that were done all before I was born. There is too much out there to get to everything. But you said KISS, so now they move up higher on the list!

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      2. When it comes to KISS, I don’t know if there’s a bigger influence on them than the Performance… album. You can hear the Stanley raps, the guitar riffing style is pure Alive! and lines like “I’ve been drinking… GIN!”. You can even hear the opening of I Still Love You in there too. I believe Stanley and Ace were in the audience at those Fillmore gigs.

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  1. Marriott was fabulous, wasn’t he? Later HP evoke Bad Company for me – no bad thing when you’re in the mood (as they say). And Clem Clempson? Apart from having one of the best names in rawk, he was/is pretty damn solid, though I probably prefer his earlier work with Colosseum. Thanks for the memories, Scott!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a lot of choices at that time. If it wasn’t for my buddy I would have missed HP. I’m on the same page as you with your comment. They are striking a cord.

        Well I’ve caught up on your takes. Have enjoyed the reminders and intros. If and when you get a minute maybe you could send CB a list of some of your essential listening. I do enjoy having my head bent with harder music from time to time. An example of a find I found on your takes was Anathema. I dig Motorhead but missed all the Judas Priest, Iron Maiden thing. I’m sure there is some good listening in there. Maybe you can help me blow out what hearing I have left. Thanks. CB

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