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Performance - Rockin' the Fillmore
Humble Pie

A&M SP 3506
Released: October 1971
Chart Peak: #21
Weeks Charted: 32
Certified Gold: 2/23/72

An exceptionally keen sort of versatility marked the work of Humble Pie on its first four studio albums. Although their contributions varied in degrees, each member of the group played several instruments, sang and wrote songs. Of course, the luxury of time and the comfort of a recording studio enabled Humble Pie to switch off on different instruments and double track vocals, but nonetheless, the band made a distinctly firm impression as a creative unite with its studio work for Immediate and A&M.

Now comes Humble Pie's fifth album, a two-record set recorded live at the Fillmore East last May and, surprise! To attract attention as the second-billed group it was last spring, Humble Pie fronts a loud and flashy attack with Jerry Shirley on drums, Greg Ridley on bass, and Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton on guitars. The group ignores its subtle, acoustic stuff and hits the audience hard with a couple of lengthy blues readings and a variety of hot, lively rock & roll.

Rockin' the Fillmore is nicely divided into halves of blues and rock & roll. Sides two and three contain respective treatments of "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" by Dr. John and Muddy Waters' "Rolling Stone" and constitutes the less interesting record of the set. Neither number really justifies its unusual length with the group's performance and the censorship of Steve Marriott's "screw-the-mother-of-the-daughter" rap in the latter is both senseless and puerile.

Sides one and for on the other half of Rockin' the Fillmore include five comparatively succinct performances that virtually explode with freshness and vitality. "Four Day Creep" starts things off with a devastating instrumental track highlighted by Humble Pie's characteristic guitar harmonies. The band makes good use of its vocal skills by having Ridley, Frampton and Marriott in that order each sing one verse alone, with Marriott's sabre-toothed voice entering after a flighty guitar solo by Frampton.

Both "I'm Ready" and "Stone Cold Fever," which follow, sound better in their previous studio forms for two reasons. First, their tempos are a mite slower live and second, Marriott occasionally pauses in playing rhythm guitar to grab the microphone stand while singing. This leaves Frampton to carry the guitar melody by himself. The final side more than compensates for any lapses in the rest of the album. Ray Charles' "Hallelujah (I Love Her So)" and an extended version of "I Don't Need No Doctor" comprise an absolutely devastating tandem that illustrates so well why Steve Marriott believes rock & roll sounds best live.

Do not be deceived: Rockin' the Fillmore is a powerful live recording whose weak moments in no way mitigate its overall impact. The good music here is so good that once you hear it, you'll want to own it.

- John Koegel, Rolling Stone, 12/23/71.

Bonus Reviews!

- Billboard, 1972.

It may seem unfair to judge a band on a live double, but they go out of their way to define themselves with this seven-song job, which celebrates the ascendancy of ruff 'n' tuff Steve Marriott over wan 'n' gone Peter Frampton by raunching up blues and soul titles too magnificent to mention in such company. Lotsa getdown vocals, lotsa getdown guitar, and an important political message, which is that short guys get laid more than normal people. A lie. C-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

This live, extended-play effort, recorded at the Fillmore, showcased the band in its element, with Steve Marriott's stratospheric wail and Peter Frampton's lyrical lead work in fine form. Frampton split to pursue a successful solo career after this album. * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Performance - Rockin' the Fillmore is Humble Pie's shining, triumphant moment, rocking up a fury with extended versions of "I Don't Need No Doctor," "I'm Ready" and nearly a half-hour of "I Walk on Gilded Splinters." You'll never believe that Peter Frampton played like this. * * * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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