The Small Faces, Humble Pie, and Peter Frampton
Reviewed on this page:
From The Beginning - There Are But Four Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake - All Or Nothing - As Safe As Yesterday Is - Town And Country - Rock On -
Performance/Rockin' The Fillmore -
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Humble Pie -
Somethin's Happening -
Frampton - The Scrubbers Sessions -
I'm In You -
On To Victory - Packet Of Three Live
Someone's got to be second-rate, I guess, and the Small Faces unfortunately spent their career being the second-best Mod band, after the Who. Like their less strictly Mod but more commercially and artistically successful competitors, they were heavily influenced by James Brown and the Beatles, adding a psychedelic sheen to hard-hitting R & B. The band's success rested on the songwriting team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. Marriott handled the guitar, most of the emphatic lead vocals, and the teen idol quotient, while Lane labored quietly to give the group some well-crafted, if musically primitive song material.
When Marriott abruptly quit to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton, the remaining band members renamed themselves the Faces, absorbed Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, and promptly metamorphosed into, well, the second-best bluesy early 70s English rock band, after the Stones. See our page on the Faces for more on the band members' many later exploits.
Ironically, the new Faces turned out to be a heck of a lot better than the early Humble Pie - which isn't saying much. The first record that Marriott cut with Frampton provides only small hints of Marriott's theatrical genius and Frampton's, uh, well, Frampton's whatever - the guy did go on to sell a zillion records as a solo artist, I like his 70s solo albums, and he was clearly a better guitarist than Marriott.
Humble Pie did get much better as it went along, and not coincidentally they later sold a ton of records themselves. In any event, Marriott's original band knew how to pump out a commercial, hard-rocking A-side, and their later records are a fascinating counterpoint to the rest of the British R & B scene. Alas, tragedy seems to have followed the band around: Lane contracted MS in the late 70s, was forced to retire from performing, and eventually died of the disease, while Marriott lost his life in a 1991 house fire while on a break from working with Frampton on a reunion project.
Tbe Small Faces have an excellent fan-run web site called Room for Ravers. Some of the more interesting features include a very thorough recent news section and a running vote on the fans' favorite songs. There's also a shamelessly commercial official Peter Frampton web site that prostitutes itself, for example, with a link section that's just a bunch of music store advertisements, a fan section that's just a CGI ploy to get you on to their mailing list, and a shitty discography. It's little more than a big ad for Frampton's latest album, and thanks to their abhorrently crass attitude we won't link to them. (JA)
The Small Faces - Kenny Jones (drums); Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals); Ian McLagan (keyboards); Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar, occasional keyboards). Marriott quit to form Humble Pie, late 1968. Marriott died, 1991. Lane died, 1997.
Humble Pie - Peter Frampton (vocals, guitar, some keyboards); Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Greg Ridley (bass, vocals); Jerry Shirley (drums, some keyboards, vocals). Frampton replaced by Clem Clempson (guitar, some keyboards, vocals), 1972. Group disbanded, 1975; briefly reformed with Marriott, Shirley, Anthony "Sooty" Jones (bass) and Bob Tench (guitar, vocals), 1980.
The Small Faces
Small Faces (1966)
I don't have this, and there's every indication that it's not worth spending money on. The singles from this period, which are available on a compilation CD that includes the following album, are uniformly amateurish and derivative. Not to be confused with the later Immediate records debut album, which was given the same name in its British release. (JA)
From The Beginning (1967)
A pathetic cash-in by the Small Faces' original record company that came out only a month before their debut on Immediate. It repeats two A-sides from the first LP that aren't so great to start with, being neither original nor well-performed ("Whatcha Gonna Do About It"; "Sha-la-la-lee"), and is padded out with a half-dozen cover versions of American soul, R & B, and girl group hits ("Runaway"; "Baby Don't You Do It"; "You Really Got A Hold On Me") that make the band sound like it was years behind its competitors. The originals are weak, and except for a fantastic, hard-rocking recycled A-side ("All Or Nothing") and a second good rocker that itself was recycled for There Are But Four... ("Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me"), there's nothing much going on here. (JA)
There Are But Four Small Faces (1967)
This is the American version of the Small Faces' first Immediate record, confusingly titled Small Faces in Britain, with several worthy A-sides substituted for second-rate album tracks that can be found on All or Nothing. The band had always focused on singles, with their earlier Decca albums being pasted together on the fly and filled out with third-rate covers and instrumentals. Surprisingly, Immediate's American release has a coherent, psychedelic British R & B pop sound, with a slew of catchy, upbeat love songs ("Get Yourself Together") and Summer of Love drug anthems (the famous "Itchycoo Park"; the mantra-meets-R & B "Green Circles"; the drug dealer jingle "Here Comes the Nice").
Almost every number has a great hook, an irresistable sing-along chorus, and a fantastically frenetic Steve Marriott vocal ("Tell Me (Have You Ever Seen Me)," with ecstatic backup vocals). The band had completely mastered the art of effective dynamics, generating huge excitement with sudden bursts of shouted harmonies soaring over a thudding rhythm section. Perhaps the only flaw is the remarkable simplicity of Marriott/Lane's blues-based riffs and chord progressions. (JA)
Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (1968)
Now a quasi-obscure classic, this is one of the first and most effective concept albums. Like Bookends, one side is just a series of singles, and the other is a mini-rock opera, here presenting a fairy-tale about a confused fellow who chases the moon in the company of a talking fly. The band is close to its peak here, with devastatingly loud rockers ("After Glow"; "Lazy Sunday") balanced by bizarre, psychedelic English folk ballads ("Happy Days Toy Town") that make them sound like a second-rate Traffic (no, I am not being redundant). The record's Achilles' heel is the eccentric spoken monologues by comedian Stanley Unwin that often go on for a full minute in between the songs on side 2, which are full of his famous made-up slang. They're confusing at first; intriguing on second or third listen; and eventually just irritating. An ear-splitting live rendition of "Tin Soldier" is tacked on at the end. (JA)
All Or Nothing (rec. 1966 - 1968, rel. 1992)
Thrown together from singles, out-takes, live tracks, and the left-overs from There Are But Four's cross-Atlantic butchering, this is surprisingly entertaining. It takes a few listens to get used to, however, because it's dominated by the easy-going, spacey, Traffic-like music hall/English folk style that the band went towards late in their career, like the fine single "Autumn Stone." Some of it is extremely hard rocking anyway (title track; "Don't Burst My Bubble"; "Things Are Gonna Get Better," with a clever counter-point harmony; several live tracks), proving once again that Marriott could shout and scream with the best of 'em. There are several multi-disc compilations running around that duplicate much of the track selection, but if I were you I'd settled for this and the preceding two records. (JA)
Humble Pie and Peter Frampton
As Safe As Yesterday Is (1969)
There isn't a single memorable song on this record, and repeated listenings don't help any. The songwriting and singing is dominated by Marriott, who seems to have decided that the best part of the Small Faces shtick was the incoherent yelling he occasionally fell into on the louder numbers, ergo, every damn track should sound like that ("Bang!"; etc.). Frampton often shares the lead vocal, but on this record his range seems even more limited and his tendency to howl and moan even more pronounced ("Buttermilk Boy"). It's a damn shame, because some decent raw material is ruined this way (the long title track, with "Eastern" instrumentation and a thudding heavy-rock fade; the longer, spacey "What You Will").
The fact that Steppenwolf's bombastic "Desperation" opens the record says a lot; the only break from the noise is a boring country blues with offensively preachy lyrics and a hokey delivery ("Alabama '69") - you can almost picture Marriott singing it in blackface. And the Chris Wood-like woodwinds contributed by a session player, as on Ian McLagan's "Growing Closer," don't help much. The good news is that Frampton was a better lead guitarist than Marriott had ever been, which boded well for the group. (JA)
Town And Country (1969)
This was pumped out just a few months later to keep Immediate Records going. The ploy didn't work, but the record is a big improvement, with a mysteriously dramatic shift in tone. Songwriting credits are shared all around - Ridley and Shirley get one song each (the pleasant, sitar/acoustic guitar "The Light Of Love," and "Cold Lady," with a decent anthemic chorus). Marriott takes a much softer and more melodic approach (the harmonica-driven narrative "Shakey Jake"); even his louder numbers are sung instead of merely shouted (the waltzing acid rocker "Silver Tongue"; the hard-rock cover of Buddy Holly's hit "Heartbeat").
Acoustic guitars are everywhere, and both Marriott (the moanin' and groanin' "Every Mother's Son") and Frampton ("Take Me Back") are crafting good acoustic ballads. In fact, the record's best moment is either Frampton's mellow, almost White Album-like "Only You Can See Me," or his and Ridley's anthemic multi-part epic "Home And Way," both of which feature consistently good performances. Still, the lack of any low points is balanced by the lack of any real excitement. (JA)
Humble Pie (1970)
Different record company, same lineup. Don't have this and it wasn't much of a hit, so it may be hard to find. (JA)
Rock On (1971)
This is a heck of a lot louder than Town And Country, and a heck of a lot better than As Safe As Yesterday Is. What works here is not just that the band is writing better tunes (mostly split between Marriott and Frampton), but that they're trying harder to deliver catchy riffs and clever touches. Witness the jokey doo-wop backups on the piano-driven blues "Red Neck Jump"; Frampton's vaguely Jimmy Page-like lead guitarwork (Howlin' Wolf's "Rollin' Stone"); and all the extra instrumentation - pedal steel guitar (the funny, sneeringly misogynistic "79th And Sunset"), saxophone (Bobby Keys on Ridley's plodding "Big George"), and female backup vocals.
The heady spirit carries over to obligate jam sessions ("Stone Cold Fever"), Marriott's fine ballad "A Song For Jenny," Frampton's rocker "Shine On," and his great take on Bo Diddley ("The Light"). More than anyone at this point other than the Stones and the Faces, Humble Pie was carrying on the great British blues - R & B - hard rock tradition, and succeeding. (JA)
Performance/Rockin' The Fillmore (1971)
Bizarre as it seems now, this live album was Humble Pie's big commercial breakthrough. And indeed, it's not your run-of-the-mill live record. The only recycled original you might consider a hit is "Stone Cold Fever," which gets an impressively blistering treatment. Almost everything else is a cover, and Marriott's sources run to arcane blues and utterly inappropriate R & B: "Hallelujah (I Love Her So)" is so overblown it's hard to believe Ray Charles wrote it; Ashford and Simpson's "I Don't Need No Doctor" (also done by Charles) is stretched into a nine-minute rave-up.
Worse still, the Pie's usual longwinded tendencies are wildly exaggerated, with two tunes rambling far beyond the point of no return: "I Walk On Gilded Splinters" is an incoherent 23 minute mess, and their retread of "Rolling Stone" runs 16 thanks to Marriott's scuzzy, improvised storytelling in the middle.
Frampton's role seems minimal: Ridley often steps up to the mike instead, and although he's on key he's ragged and gutteral.
Meanwhile, no amount of Frampton's enthusiastic pentatonic twiddling can make up for the band's stomping, tuneless excess. Don't go anywhere near this record unless nothing could ever turn you off from Steve Marriott. (JA)
This was the band's biggest hit in the States, but it doesn't do anything to expand or improve the hard-rock formula of the preceding albums. Instead, you get swaggering, unimaginative bluster on track after track: there's not only a dull cover of Eddie Cochran's raving "C'mon Everybody," but two derivative blues numbers, one acoustic ("Old Time Feelin'") and one Chicago-style, which runs a sloppy, unbearable nine minutes ("I Wonder"). Marriott even bases a whole tune on one single ripped-off Jeff Beck riff ("Sweet Peace And Time" = "Plynth").
Some of it's Stones-flavored, good-natured fun, like the Ridley-Marriott power ballad "You're So Good For Me" and Steve's stomping anthem "30 Days In The Hole"; and the guitar riffs pour out even when he can't come up with an intelligible vocal melody ("The Fixer").
But the real problem is the absence of the disenchanted Frampton. Clem Clempson is a fine guitarist who uses a lot of wah-wah, but he can't make up for the lack of Frampton's relatively subtle and tuneful material. This time around Marriott managed to round up some well-known guest players, including singers Madeleine Bell and Doris Troy, London blues legend Alexis Korner, and Steve Stills. (JA)
Wind Of Change (Frampton: 1972)
Frampton had some high-powered help on his first solo outing, including Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and Klaus Voorman, who all appear on "Alright"; Ringo and Jim Price also show up on "The Lodger."
Surprisingly, the album went nowhere, like his next couple efforts.
It does have problems: there's a terrible, klunky cover of "Jumping Jack Flash," complete with misbegotten John Entwistle-style horns.
But everything that made Frampton a superstar a few years later is already evident: his mid-tempo rockers are hummable and upbeat (the cheery, Chuck Berry-ish "It's A Plain Shame"), his Paul McCartney-like ballads are sappy but full of entertaining, mock-sincere teenage sentiment ("All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)"), and his free-flowing guitar work adds some personality.
The band is Frank Carillo (rhythm guitar), Andrew Bown or Ricky Wills (bass), and Mike Kellie (drums); Del Newman arranged the strings on several tracks. (JA)
Eat It (1973)
This double album with one live side was the last Humble Pie record to hit the American Top 40. The band was fading at this point, but they did release two more albums before splitting. (JA)
Natural Born Boogie (rec. 1969 - 1973, rel. 2000)
A compilation of BBC radio appearances of definite interest to fans.
Most of it is from the Frampton era, showcasing his nimble lead guitar, but there are two 1973 tracks recorded for the Old Grey Whistle Test (Ridley's sludgy, down-tempo Eat It track "Black Coffee," with prominent vocals by the Blackberries, an American backup vocal trio with Clydie King, Vanetta Fields, and Vicki Brown; a horribly recorded live version of "I Don't Need No Doctor").
The group is mostly on its best behavior, with remakes of a few quality originals (the introspective outlaw tune "Sad Bag Of Shakey Jake," where they sound a lot like the Small Faces) and a bunch of quality covers ("Heartbeat"; the swaggering hard rocker "Desperation" and uplifting "The Light"; the crawling, strikingly Zeppelin-esque blues number "Rolling Stone" - credited here to "Essex" instead of Howlin' Wolf - with a characteristically lyrical Frampton solo; "4 Day Creep," an ancient blues-boogie number by Ida Cox that appeared on Fillmore and is very routine for Marriott).
There are also versions of two single sides not available on their albums: Marriott's title track, a rote Chuck Berry imitation that was their first A-side and only major UK hit, and 1970s "Big Black Dog," a generic-sounding but amusing hard rocker by Frampton, Marriott, and Ridley.
It's not the biggest revelation, but it's actually better than some of the band's regular albums and not entirely redundant. (JA)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Humble Pie (rec. 1973, rel. 1995)
This relatively recent release is vastly better than its more famous cousin, Rockin' The Fillmore - and considering the band's huge reptuation for its concert performances, it's ironic that we had to wait this long to see what the legend is all about.
Indeed, Clempson's guitar solos are fierce and ballsy; the Blackberries add considerable class; the set list has some head-banging rock ("Up Our Sleeves"; "C'Mon Everybody") and raving, soulful R & B ("Hallelujah, I Love Her So"); Marriott's dervish-like singing is some of his best on record; and despite consistently overlong running times, there's not as much of the self-indulgent jamming and sloppiness that make Fillmore such a drag.
However, both "Road Runner" and "I Don't Need No Doctor" sputter with 12 minute running times, and the rest of the track selection just isn't terribly interesting.
Only three tunes are originals, including "30 Days In The Hole" and "Hot N' Nasty," and of the remainder only the blazing rendition of "Honky Tonk Women" is a major find for serious fans.
It's enough to hobble what might have been an excellent introduction to the band. Still, though, if you're big on the Pie's "classic" period you'll want to give this one a spin. (JA)
Frampton's Camel (Frampton's Camel: 1973)
A short-lived group that was basically the Peter Frampton backing band; the band disguise did nothing to spark interest in his work.
Like all of his solo records before his breakthrough live album, this one is a guilty pleasure, weighed down by air-headed lyrics but lifted by good hooks and good vibes.
Bassist Rick Wills later took Ronnie Lane's place in the reunited Small Faces. (JA)
Somethin's Happening (Frampton: 1974)
Frampton gets down to business, producing, ditching most of the guest stars, playing prominent keyboard lines on most tracks, and sticking with a two-man rhythm section (Rick Wills, bass; John Headley-Down, drums).
He pulls off one really irresistable 70s soft rock anthem ("I Wanna Go To The Sun"), a lighter-waving classic that shows off all his talents.
He also scores with the relatively up-tempo "Baby (Somethin's Happening)," where he gets in some energizing slide work.
The rest is pretty pedestrian ("Golden Goose").
Frampton slaps the same heavy chorus effects on every guitar part ("Golden Goose"), and most tracks run on too long - the sunny "Underhand" is the only really economical cut, and "Magic Moon (Da Da Da Da Da!)" works an amusingly plodding machine gun riff completely to death.
Things really fall apart when he recruits Nicky Hopkins for a long, aimless, low energy ballad ("Waterfall").
But Hopkins shines on the burbling, dopey, Caribbean-flavored, almost Loggins & Messina-like "Sail Away," while Frampton pushes his upper vocal range and solos druggily.
And even when it's forgettable, the record consistently does spotlight his usual mix of shuffling good vibes, accessible chord progressions, soaring diatonic leads, and bawling emotion ("Doobie Wah").
Lightly seasoned junk food with a few nutritious nuggets. (JA)
A flop studio album. (JA)
Frampton (Frampton: 1975)
Unimpressed whenever style overrides substance, rock critics have always hated this guy. But he's talented and mostly tasteful, and you can hear that from one end of this middle-volume album to another. He handles everything but drums and bass - vocals, classy lead guitar, chiming rhythm guitar, solid if unremarkable piano, songwriting and production.
He's mellow but sincere-sounding; his slightly strained and ragged voice is engaging, there's plenty of snappy guitar work, and there's nothing truly saccharine like synthesizers, horns, or strings. The two big hits are good too. "Show Me The Way" isn't deep, but it has a cool talkbox-augmented lead line. "Baby, I Love Your Way" has an over-slick chorus, but most of it is pleasantly strum-happy verses.
Apart from a nice acoustic guitar instrumental ("Penny For Your Thoughts") and a strutting cock rocker ("(I'll Give You) Money") none of the other material is brilliant, but it's consistently entertaining: smooth ballads ("One More Time"), upbeat R & B ("Fanfare"), punchy rock ("Nowhere's Too Far (For My Baby)").
The bummer is the clichéd romance lyrics, plastered with brain-dead rhymes and basically trivial.
The LP did become Frampton's first gold record, but it was far from being a major hit, and he didn't score a Top 40 single until the next record sparked interest in both of the singles. (JA)
The Scrubbers Sessions (rec. 1974 - 1975, rel. 1997)
This minor-label, 20-track release is a kind of Holy Grail for Marriott fans.
Cut at his home studio with a bunch of friends ("the Scrubbers"), it's raw, heart-felt, and creative, showing all the potential that failed to surface on the post-Frampton Pie records.
Ridley and competent blues pianist Tim Hinkley played a large part - Ridley's vocal on "Send Me Some Loving" is one of his best anywhere - but it's really a Marriott solo album.
His authentic antiquarian interests surface repeatedly, with a hilarious music hall number ("Captain Goatcabin's Balancing Stallions"), gentle stabs at acoustic country ("Bluegrass Interval"), rockabilly ("You're A Heartbreaker") and country-blues ("Hambone"), some stripped-down R & B (Cooke's "Shake"; Spector's "Be My Baby"), and several over-the-top attempts to ape old time Delta and Chicago blues (a ground-shaking cover of "Mona").
All of this nicely balances his usual, blustery hard rock, which is crafted and impassioned here ("Street Rats"; drug odes like "High And Happy").
Amazingly, A & M records refused to release the tapes; given to Hinkley, the surfaced only when he finally decided to cash in on them.
Guitarist Clempson and singers Fields, King and Brown showed up, but drummer Shirley didn't and was replaced by Ian Wallace; guests include BJ Cole (pedal steel) and Lindsay Scott (fiddle - Joe Brown is credited, but Scott tells me otherwise), and Wallace's King Crimson compatriots Mel Collins (sax) and Boz Burrell (bass). (JA)
Street Rats (1975)
After A & M's rebuff of what might have been his finest Humble Pie album, Marriott regrouped the band (still including Ridley, Shirley, and Clempson) and tossed off this new studio record. With filler such as a trio of Beatles covers, it went nowhere and the original Pie broke up. Marriott then joined Jones and McLagan for a Small Faces reunion, which lasted through about 1978; he continued with a solo career that was punctuated by two "Humble Pie" records (see below). (JA)
Frampton Comes Alive (Frampton: 1976)
Lightning struck this time around: the album shot to #1, went sextuple platinum, and yielded three big-time hits that all rose high in the American Top 40: "Show Me The Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way" (running out of song titles, are we?), and "Do You Feel Like We Do." That made it easily the most successful live double album of all time.
What really makes the record work is the depth of Frampton's song catalog, with a couple of sure-fire tunes coming off of each of his preceding solo albums, and just one lousy Rolling Stones cover ("Jumping Jack Flash") and one revived Humble Pie song ("Shine On"). (JA)
The first of two albums by the reformed "Small Faces" - but with Ronnie Lane out of the picture, his place is taken by Peter Frampton's former bassist Rick Wills. (JA)
I'm In You (Frampton: 1977)
Frampton's eagerly anticipated, self-produced follow up to Comes Alive is a titanic, toothless bore, so dull you'd think someone had drugged him into a near-coma.
The burbly, feel-good "Don't Have To Worry" and the somewhat bathetic, piano and Arp synth-driven title track are fun.
There's also the slightly demented acoustic sing-along "Rocky's Hot Club," with a characteristically ecstatic harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder.
But the one time he wheels out a truly catchy refrain it's on the mellow, barely funky, Little Feat-like groove tune "Won't You Be My Friend," which drags on for eight minutes.
His guitar leads are as pretty but his lyrics as vapid as ever, and only the tepid "Tried To Love" and the dumb Humble Pie throwback "(I'm A) Roadrunner" are even vaguely loud.
Elsewhere he goes with light, burbly pop ("(Putting My) Heart On The Line"), often dull and faceless ("St. Thomas (Don't You Know How I Feel)").
He even cranks out a pointless, literal-mind cover of "Signed, Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)."
A paper-thin throwaway.
The band is Bob Mayo (keyboards), Stanley Sheldon (bass), and John Siomos (drums), with Ritchie Hayward (congas, drums); Mike Finnegan sings on "Signed, Sealed."
Frampton had no trouble putting two singles into the Top 40: the title track, which reached #2 and therefore became his biggest hit ever; and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."
The album itself went to #2 and sold a million copies. (JA)
78 In The Shade (1978)
The second and last reunion record.
Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, who had just left Wings, had been added to the group; Lane also appears on the record as a guest.
Shortly afterwards Wills backed David Gilmour on a solo album and later joined Foreigner, McCulloch died of a heroin overdose, Jones took Keith Moon's job in the Who, McLagan went on tour with the Rolling Stones, and Marriott started to put together his new "Humble Pie" lineup. (JA)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Frampton and others: 1978)
Frampton starred in Robert Stigwood's terrible, artistically misguided film based on the Beatles' classic album, and also sang on the soundtrack record. The idea here was to imitate the Who's 1975 film and soundtrack based on their own earlier double LP Tommy. Amazingly, the public snapped it all up; the soundtrack soared to #5 and went platinum. But the episode was a disaster for Frampton's career anyway. (JA)
Where I Should Be (Frampton: 1979)
Frampton's rocket-ride to fame was already in its re-entry phase at this point; although this album went gold, it was a far lesser success than I'm In You, and it yielded just one hit - "I Can't Stand It No More" (a comment on his audience's feelings, perhaps?). (JA)
On To Victory (1980)
In the early 80s Marriott reformed Humble Pie without either Ridley, Clempson, or Frampton, adding ex-Jeff Beck Group vocalist Bob Tench. By now Jerry Shirley was the only other original member, with Anthony "Sooty" Jones taking Greg Ridley's spot on bass, and Tench being called upon to add some guitar work - he didn't really sing much. Oddly, Marriott hadn't lost any of his high range, but he had lost a few low notes, forcing him into a pinched, gasping delivery.
At least he seems to have kept most of his old energy, and he rarely caved in to current musical fads, delivering a "Humble Pie" record that sounds much like the original.
But with slightly updated production values and none of Frampton's balladry, the "Humble Pie" sound is just generic heavy rock, somewhere between metal and 70s R & B ("Savin' It"). Most of the tunes are Marriott or Marriott-whoever originals, but there are covers of Otis Redding's "My Lover's Prayer," and of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Baby Don't You Do It," with Tench's lead making it a weird blend of soul and surf music - the same song was recorded by both Marvin Gaye and the Band, but much differently. There's even a Small Faces-like version of Gary Puckett's old hit "Over You," which ends the record with a nostalgic whimper. For Marriott diehards only. (JA)
Go For The Throat (1980)
This was the second and last Marriott-Tench "Humble Pie" record. Afterwards, Marriott was reduced to a bar-band player, using the name Packet of Three for whatever rhythm section backed him at a particular date.
Meanwhile, in 1981 Marriott recorded an apparently roughshod, initially unreleased album with Ronnie Lane that eventually appeared to no great fanfare.
I don't expect to find it anytime soon. (JA)
Breaking All The Rules (Frampton: 1981)
Frampton bottomed out in the early 80s, with two flop albums and then a temporary withdrawal from recording. (JA)
Art Of Control (Frampton: 1982)
Packet Of Three Live (Marriott: rec. 1984, rel. 1993)
One of several cut-rate recordings from the mid-80s that document Marriott's slow, aimless burnout.
Backed here by Jim Leverton (bass) and Fallon (drums), Marriott seems to have no new ideas whatsoever.
He recreates his standard mid-70s Humble Pie stage show right down to the lame call-and-response audience participation, shameless recycling of rock 'n' roll and R & B oldies, and interminable jamming - "Thirty Days In The Hole" and "I Don't Need No Doctor" each grind on past ten minutes.
The Small Faces stuff is predictable and sparse ("Whatcha Gonna Do About It"; a competent "All Or Nothing"), the Humble Pie material isn't his best ("Fool For A Pretty Face," one of the few high points from On To Victory; "The Fixer"), and most of the set is covers: Leverton growling through the Willie Dixon-style blues number "Shame On You"; a down-tempo soul arrangement of CCR's "Bad Moon Rising"; a big, fat, Pie-style deconstruction of "All Shook Up"; a predictably overdriven take on Rufus Thomas' "Walkin' The Dog."
Ironically, this isn't nearly as painful as you might think, because Marriott's musical skills are mostly intact: he reels off some commanding solos ("The Fixer"), he seems more comfortable with the blues than ever (Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years"), and although his voice is sometimes totally hoarse, his frenzied howling is mostly the same as always.
Weak, but it could have been a lot worse. (JA)
Premonition (Frampton: 1986)
This was right before Frampton's brief alliance with David Bowie. (JA)
When All The Pieces Fit (Frampton: 1989)
With the Bowie album and tour over, Frampton cut another new studio album. He then started working again with Steve Marriott for the first time in nearly two decades, but nothing was released before Marriott's accidental death. (JA)
Peter Frampton (Frampton: 1994)
A studio record. Yet another artist, like Diana Ross, who never seems to tire of naming albums after himself. (JA)
Frampton Comes Alive II (Frampton: 1995)
I've seen this thing all over the place. The guy really seems intent upon cashing in on his name; it's kind of pathetic. (JA)
Don't worry, things are gonna get better...