In 1971, the concept of a hard-rock band achieving its big commercial breakthrough with a double live album was nothing new. But the experience had to be a particularly satisfying one for Humble Pie.
In a way, they were one of the era's supergroups. Three of the band's four members -- guitarist Peter Frampton, singer-guitarist Steve Marriott and bassist Greg Ridley -- had already tasted success with the Herd, Small Faces and Spooky Tooth, respectively. At a mere 17, Jerry Shirley was less well known but was gaining a reputation as a formidable power drummer in the John Bonham mold.
Still, in spite of their lineup and reputation for explosive live shows, Humble Pie weren't able to duplicate their onstage energy in the studio. Their four studio albums aren't bad, but they sold only moderately well.
On 1971's 'Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore,' Humble Pie finally captured lightning in a bottle. Recorded over a four-show, two-night stand at the legendary Fillmore East -- home to some of the most storied concert recordings ever made, from Aretha to the Allmans -- the live double album showcased the band blowing the roof off the grand old joint. Marriott is a pint-sized powerhouse of a blues-rock singer, and his thunderous riffs perfectly complemented Frampton's more fluid, precise approach. The rhythm section of Ridley and Shirley held the foundation up from the bottom, driving it home with all the nuance of a Molotov cocktail.
'Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore' became Humble Pie's breakthrough hit, cracking the Top 25 and going gold. But the success was short-lived: Frampton left not long afterward, and repeated the formula a few years later by releasing a string of modestly successful solo albums before hitting the mother lode with the 1976 blockbuster 'Frampton Comes Alive.' Humble Pie scored a few more hits with replacement guitarist Clem Clempson on the albums 'Smokin'' and 'Eat It,' before finally petering out for good.
|Brand||A & M / Universal / Music on CD|
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