Top 10 Humble Pie Songs
One could make a good argument that Humble Pie have in some ways lived out the prophecy of their name. Now frequently overshadowed by the same peers they once blew off the stage, the British group have indeed been forced to eat humble pie in the grand scheme of classic rock history. But that in no way diminishes the scale of their influence or the lasting appeal of their discography â just ask many of those aforementioned peers, who still rave about Humble Pieâs awesome talents at every opportunity. In leader Steve Marriott, Humble Pie had perhaps the closest male reflection of Janis Joplinâs soulful blues howl; a voice that simultaneously made him one of the most envied and revered singers of his generation. Yet there was so much more to the band than that, as the following list of the Top 10 Humble Pie songs will show.
The title track of Humble Pieâs ninth album kicks off our list much like a gutter-dwelling rodent: tentatively poking its whiskers into the wind before diving headlong into yesterdayâs lunch meat. The song's distinct lack of decent production values is no coincidence, as it was patched together with other semi-finished recordings against the bandâs wishes, in order to satisfy Humble Pieâs remaining commitment to A&M Records. This shameful show of disrespect notwithstanding, âStreet Ratâ does offer a totally unfiltered glimpse into the down-and-dirty blues rock cellar underneath Humble Pieâs proverbial musical house.
Peter Frampton's primary motivation for joining Humble Pie was to escape the teen idol status heâd been pegged with by his former band, the Herd, and indeed, his songs provided a welcome, milder foil for Steve Marriottâs wild-eyed, irrepressible energy. âShine Onâ remains perhaps the best case in point, and, as the chosen single and opening track on Pieâs fourth album, âRock On,â signaled Framptonâs readiness to step out from under Marriottâs shadow and embark on his own (wildly successful) solo career.
âHot ânâ Nastyâ
For his part, Marriott clearly took Framptonâs exit in stride, because Humble Pieâs first outing without the latter â 1972âs aptly-named âSmokinââ â went on to become the bandâs biggest-selling album up to that point in time. Sure, âSmokinââ clearly benefited from the buzz surrounding the previous yearâs jaw-dropping âRockinâ the Fillmoreâ set, but a slew of imaginatively reinvented new cover tunes and sizzling Marriott originals like the ultra-funky R&B of âHot ânâ Nastyâ also ensured that Framptonâs departure was no threat to Humble Pieâs snowballing momentum.
âLive With Meâ
Just two years earlier, Humble Pie had effectively hit their stride with an eponymous third album that officially announced their shift towards hard rock and heavier vibes in general â a far cry from 1969âs all-time mellow-fest âTown and Country.â Our next choice for this list of the Top 10 Humble Pie songs is the positively epic, organ-drenched âLive With Me,â which may not deliver the same brisk kick as the albumâs remaining material, but certainly outclassed it with a deliberate crescendo that duly delivered a soulful and cathartic climax.
Speaking of class, leave it to Marriott and company to reassert their blue-collar ethos by naming their eighth album after a seventeenth century slang term for toilet. Thatâs right, weâre talking about âThunderboxâ -- or did you think the lady glimpsed through the album coverâs keyhole was sitting naked in a phone booth? Anyway, youâd be hard pressed to find a more glaring example of âahem! â potty humor in the annals of classic rock, and the Motown-like backing vocals provided by the Blackberries are just sweet icing on the cake.
âUp Our Sleeveâ
Weâve pretty much established by now that Steve Marriottâs voice could peel paint at 50 paces, but his guitar playing was nothing to scoff at, either. And when matched with Framptonâs capable replacement, Clem Clempson, it could melt through amplifiers as quickly as Humble Pieâs roadies could stack them. See 1973âs pulverizing fan favorite, âUp Our Sleeve,â for proof. Simply put, Humble Pieâs devastating power in concert never had a better showcase than this take-no-prisoners hard rocker.
âNatural Born Bugieâ
Humble Pieâs first single already offered a tantalizing taste of things to come, immediately showing the potential of this supergroup assembled from former members of the Small Faces (Marriott), the Herd (Frampton) and Spooky Tooth (Greg Ridley) â each of whom took a verse on this song. With teenage drummer Jerry Shirley in tow, Humble Pie announced their intentions to counter their prevailing star power with down-to-earth rock and boogie via this timeless little nugget, which the musicians built on grooves as big as the Titanic.
âI Donât Need No Doctorâ
Rock history isnât exactly littered with cover versions that became more definitive than the originals (though Joe Cockerâs âWith a Little Help From My Friendsâ comes to mind), but Humble Pie delivered scores of them. None more definitive, we believe, than âRockinâ the Fillmoreâsâ positively scorching reinvention of the classic R&B side âI Donât Need No Doctorâ as a heavy rock powerhouse. From this point forward, arguably more artists have covered Humble Pieâs arrangement of the song than the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead original.
âStone Cold Feverâ
In a catalog filled to bursting with killer rough-and-tumble guitar riffs, âStone Cold Feverâ may just boast the greatest six-string kick in the teeth Humble Pie ever landed. Yet the songâs unconventional mid-section hooked a sharp left into a surprisingly refined and subtle vamp topped by a very jazzy solo, before swerving back into hard rock land. As such, it displays a notable vantage point into Humble Pieâs musical versatility, had they wished to diverge more frequently from their typically straightforward rock and roll approach.
â30 Days in the Holeâ
Speaking of frequently covered songs, â30 Days in the Holeâ ranks with Humble Pieâs most oft-revisited tracks since it was first unveiled as the second-side opener on 1972âs âSmokinââ LP. Not only does the song absolutely cook with a funky vengeance, but its virtual catalog of chemical bad habits makes it an irresistible fix for bad boy rockers of all ages. Indeed, Humble Pie never sounded more addictive, and we therefore had no choice but to tap out â30 Days in the Holeâ to cap our List of Top 10 Humble Pie songs. Remember, kids, just say ânoâ to drugsâ¦but âyesâ to Humble Pie!