Tuesday, 9 June 2015

"Humble Pie" by HUMBLE PIE [A&M Records 1970 LP with STEVE MARRIOTT & PETER FRAMPTON] (2007, 2009, 2011 Japanese SHM-CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Won’t You Live With Me…"

Although I personally love their first two albums to bits (“As Safe As Yesterday” and “Town And Country” from July and December 1969 on Immediate Records) – their signing to A&M Records in 1970 saw their self-titled “Humble Pie” album released in the summer of that explosive year and their ‘rawk’ sound that we all know and love properly emerge. 

Originally released on A&M Records AMLS 986 in July 1970 (A&M Records SP 4270 in the USA) – it’s had a good CD reissue on Repertoire in 2005 in a digipak for some years now. But I’d argue that the stunning 24-bit Digital Remaster in carried in Japan in 2007 (and used since) is a whole different sonic ballgame. But in 2014 - I calculate there are now no less three Japanese release dates for this SHM-CD reissue – and I’d like to sort out what’s what.

A SHM-CD doesn't require a special CD player to play it on (compatible on all) nor does it need audiophile kit to hear the benefits. It's a new form of the format that picks up the nuances of the transfer better (top quality make). I own about 15 of them and they're uniformly superb.

“Humble Pie” first appeared 14 February 2007 in Japan on Universal/A&M UICY-93219 (Barcode 4988005459732) in a gorgeous 5” Repro Mini Album Sleeve which even aped the stippled effect of the original A&M 1970 album and its gorgeous gatefold artwork. It had its Japanese worded booklet, an outer Obi strip – but most importantly it had a new 2007 24-bit remaster. As is the habit in Japan with these ‘supposed’ limited editions – they seem to get reissued every two or three years – and that happened with this version on 29 December 2011 using the same UICY-93219 catalogue number.

But there is also a 22 April 2009 Japanese SHM-CD version on Universal/A&M UICY-94066 (Barcode 4988005555151) that also uses the 2007 remaster. If you cut and paste either of the above barcodes into Amazon’s search bar – you will get the issue you want (check them because prices can fluctuate wildly – and not in a good way).

HUMBLE PIE – like those other great British bands FREE and LED ZEPPELIN – produced the most brilliant Rock albums in 1970 and 1971 with what seemed like effortless ease - and their 3rd LP “Humble Pie” is no different. Right from the opening seconds of the eight-minute “Live With Me” – the lonesome organ and drum rolls seem in your face – and when that great guitar kicks in – along with Marriott’s distinctive wail - the power of it is fabulous. We get all acoustic dainty with the Jerry Shirley spliff-song “Only A Roach” (guitarist with the band) – returning to proper riffage with the cocky rocker “One-Eyed Trouser Snake”. Side 1 of the 8-track LP ends with the pretty Peter Frampton “Earth And Water Song”.

Side 2 opens with a great hard-rock cover of the Willie Dixon penned Muddy Waters classic “I’m Ready” and once again Marriott just sounds so damn cool – it’s sick (“smoking TNT and Dynamite…”) Back to Pedal Steel whimsy with “Theme From Skint (See You Later Liquidator)” where Steve bemoans his lack of ‘bread’. The remaster really lifts up the instruments – tambourine and acoustic guitars especially. We’re then back to one of the album’s collective songwriting highlights – the fantastic Boogie Rock of “Red Light Momma, Red Hot”. It ends on the pretty Peter Frampton ballad “Sucking On The Sweet Vine” with rich chord changes that stay with you…

So there you have it. I also bought the next SHM-CD along in the sequence – their 4th album “Rock On” from March 1971 with genius tunes like “Shine On” and the ‘jam tart lips’ of “79th And Sunset”.

These Japanese SHM-CD reissues can be pricey I know – but if you’re a fan – seek them out – they’re so worth it…

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