Album review: HUMBLE PIE – The Atlanta Years

HUMBLE PIE - The Atlanta Years

Store For Music [Release date 11.12.20]

Steve Marriott is best remembered in the UK as the front man for the Small Faces . Also rememberd by many as Britain’s best blue eyed soul singer, and not least for his songwriting partnership with Ronnie Lane. Don’t forget all those classic hit singles and the wonderful Number One album “Ogdens Nut Gone Flake”.

In the USA, on the other hand, Humble Pie left an indelible mark across countless headlining tours, playing everywhere from Madison Square Gardens to Shea Stadium. Peter Frampton left the band and continued his journey to the best selling live album of all time, while Marriott perfected a unique fusion between rock, blues and soul via Humble Pie’s “soul revue” with The Blackberries, the cream of LA Session singers who had worked with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand.

However, this two CD re-release is Steve Marriott solo – both studio and live recordings. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with Humble Pie, except as a reminder of unscrupulous times where posters and billings would appear with the Humble Pie title, as promoters tried to sell more tickets by doing this.

However, what matters is the music – which is exceptional.

Culled together from various recording sessions at Pyramid Eye studio in Cincinnati, and Capricorn studio in Macon Georgia, the studio tracks offer a glimpse of the variety and depth of Steve’s solo work. Perhaps more laidback than most would expect, it still packs one hell of a bite – as his rendition of Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nuthins” will testify. “Ain’t You Glad New York Can’t Talk” is pure class, while “Poor Man’s Rich Man” brings Steve’s original Artful Dodger West End stage past up to date.

The surprises keep on coming – “Lonely No More” was written as the first single for the reformed Small Faces but never released, and “Middle Aged Anxiety“ documents Steve’s feeling surrounding John Lennon’s death.

The live tracks on CD Two are from a scintillating gig at Annie’s Club in Cincinnati, with Steve and his band showcasing Marriott’s soul-man classics, together with a smattering of Small Faces and Humble Pie. Given the gig takes place in the USA, there is a preponderance of the Humble Pie material, played and sung expertly by “the voice that pulverises”.

Do yourself a favour – highly recommended!  ****

Review by Iain McGonigal

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