Saturday, 22 July 2017

"Natural Born Bugie: The Immediate Anthology" by HUMBLE PIE (October 2000 Sanctuary/Castle Music 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...A Nifty Little Number..."

I've had this truly fantastic HUMBLE PIE twofer-CD set for over 15 years now and meant to review it many times. Well, no time like July 2017.

Fronted by the mighty Steve Marriott (fresh from the Small Faces) and The Herd's lead singer Peter Frampton - over in the USA especially HUMBLE PIE achieved stadium-filling Rock legend but initially remained something of a subdued force back in their native Blighty.

And that’s where "Natural Born Bugie: The Immediate Anthology" comes rollicking in. This October 2000 Sanctuary Records/Castle Music 2CD reissue features their initial two albums with Andrew Loog Oldham's ill-fated 'Immediate Records' - both issued in the heady days of 1969 - "As Safe As Yesterday Is" in July 1969 and "Town And Country" in late November. Original drummer Jerry Shirley got involved in this reissue helping with the new remixes from original tapes and reminiscences for the liner notes. The set also offers both sides of a stand-alone 7" single (the titular "Natural Born Bugie" backed with the delightfully monikered "Wrist Job") and eleven other stragglers - a very tasty Nine Previously Unreleased Tracks with two further outtakes first issued on a German CD in 1992 (Tracks 7 and 8 on Disc 2). It's a big ole slice of forgotten Pie - so let's get to the many-headed details...

UK released 30 October 2000 (November 2000 in the USA) - "Natural Born Bugie: The Immediate Anthology" by HUMBLE PIE on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMDDD 054 (Barcode 5050159105427) is a 2CD 34-Track Set of Remasters that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (74:00 minutes):
1. Natural Born Bugie
2. Wrist Job
Tracks 1 and 2 are the non-album A&B-sides of their debut UK 7" single released July 1969 on Immediate IM 082

3. Desperation [Side 1]
4. Stick Shift
5. Buttermilk Boy
6. Growing Closer
7. As Safe As Yesterday Is
8. Bang! [Side 2]
9. Alabama '69
10. I'll Go Alone
11. A Nifty Little Number Like You
12. What You Will
Tracks 3 to 12 are their debut studio album "As Safe As Yesterday Is" - released July 1969 in the UK on Immediate Records IMSP 025 and December 1969 in the USA on Immediate IMOCS 101 with the Ian McLagan track "Growing Closer" on Side 1 replaced with the single "Natural Born Bugie". It peaked at No. 34 in the UK, didn't chart USA.

13. Take Me Back [Side 1]
14. The Sad Bag Of Shakey Jake
15. The Light Of Love
16. Cold Lady
17. Down Home Again
18. Ollie Ollie
Tracks 13 to 18 are Side 1 of their 2nd studio album "Town And Country" - released November 1969 in the UK on Immediate Records IMSP 027 (No USA Release). It didn't chart in the UK

Disc 2 (70:34 minutes):
1. Every Mother's Son
2. Heartbeat
3. Only You Can See
4. Silver Tongue
5. Home And Away
Tracks 1 to 5 are Side 2 of their 2nd studio album "Town And Country" - released November 1969 in the UK on Immediate Records IMSP 027 (No USA Release). It didn't chart in the UK

6. I'll Drown In My Own Tears
7. 79th Street Blues
8. Greg's Song (Backing Track)
9. Hello Grass (No Regrets)
10. Road To Ride
11. BTMG's (Instrumental)
12. Zeptoe Through The Tulips
13. Leave No Turn Unstoned (alias Just A Riff) - Instrumental
14. Every Mother's Son (alias Jesse Hardin) ('Drunk Intro' Version)
15. The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake
16. For Your Love (Studio Jam)
Tracks 6 and 9 to 16 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Tracks 7 and 8 first appeared on the 1992 German CD reissue of "Town And Country" on Repertoire REP 4231-WY (Barcode 4009910423127)

HUMBLE PIE was:
STEVE MARRIOTT - Lead Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
PETER FRAMPTON - Lead Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
GREG RIDLEY - Bass and Vocals
JERRY SHIRLEY - Drums and Percussion

Compiled by a name trusted by collectors JOHN REED - almost all of the Sanctuary/Castle Music CD reissues of the period favoured a fold-out inlay which is not only a tasty treat visually but an in-depth and knowledgeable read too. With liner notes from ROGER DOPSON, JOHN HOLLIER and JERRY SHIRLEY, the text is peppered with rare Euro 45 picture sleeves ("The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake"), Immediate Records trade adverts and even the photograph of the brown-parcel artwork that featured on the "As Safe As Yesterday Is" sleeve. They've repro'd the rear covers of both LPs, an NME issue that featured HP on the front cover, black and white and colour snaps of the English rockers in full flight on varying stages and an A-Label demo of the band's lone British single on immediate - "Natural Born Bugie" that peaked at No. 4 on the UK singles charts in September 1969.

But the great news is quality sources for the Audio - 'Immediate Remasters' by Sound Recording Technology at St. Ives, mix downs for the previously unreleased material by Jerry Shirley and Andy Jackson at Dave Gilmour's Studios and the whole set Remastered by NICK WATSON at SRT. The first album is essentially a Rocker - whilst the poor-selling No. 2 LP was largely an Acoustic Folky affair - and both sound suitably brill to me – muscle and details galore. To the music...

Marriott wrote both sides of the "Natural Born Bugie" single where some copies credited the track as "Natural Born Woman" after the actual chorus lyric. It's a simple guitar and piano good-time Rock 'n' Roller with that fantastic Bluesy organ sound on "Wrist Job" being my preferred poison. The debut album opens with a storming Steppenwolf cover version - "Desperation" - just one of the John Kay-written highlights on their January 1968 "Steppenwolf" debut LP on ABC/Dunhill Records. By the way both Marriott and Frampton play and sing - you could be forgiven for thinking Humble Pie are a British version of that American juggernaut of a band - a style call I'll take any day of the week. Frampton gets his first credit with the slide guitar of "Stick Shift" whilst also contributing "I'll Be Alone" and a co-write with Marriott on the LP's superb title track "As Safe As Yesterday Is". Things kick into boogie mode with "Buttermilk Boy" where a country boy finds himself at the eager hands of an amorous city gal (this strapping lad will be needing a big breakfast come the morning). Ian McLagan's lone contribution to the LP "Growing Closer" is the kind of Small Faces-sounding harmonica rocker from the "Autumn Stone" period that I love - with Side 1 ending on the epic six-minute title track where Humble Pie's musicality comes to full fruition - what a tune and what a sound they made – minstrel of the night indeed.

The band had left for the USA, Immediate didn't promote the new record with a British single and were themselves weeks away from financial ruin anyway. Also unlike its rocking predecessor - the new album’s direction seemed more Folk than Natural Born Bugie. So when the 2nd Humble Pie album "Town And Country" appeared in late November 1969 – critics were baffled and the public either didn't know of its existence or worse - didn't care (it failed to chart in the UK and wasn't given an equivalent US release). Poor sales and disinterest are born out with my own decades of experience. I worked as a Rarities Buyer in Reckless Records in Islington and Soho for nearly 20 years (one of the best and busiest second-hand record shops in London) and while the A&M Humble Pie albums (especially the popular doubles "Performance" and "Eat It") would regularly show in people's record collections – the first two Immediate albums never did – especially the second "Town And Country".

But I've always loved it – even bought the 2008 Japanese SHM-CD reissue. Re-listening to the genius Sitar shimmy of "The Light Of Love" (could be a 1967 Summer of Love classic) or the Terry Reid cool keyboard groove of "Cold Lady" or the Sticky Fingers "Wild Horses" country-acoustic of "Every Mother's Son" or Frampton's fantastic vocal on "Only You Can See" – and I'm loving this wonderfully accomplished LP all over again. Hell I even like the 'rawk' cover of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" that HP make sound like a Small Faces outtake from a particularly boozy night out...

Both 1970's "Humble Pie" and 1971's "Rock On" – their opening gambits on A&M Records – are gems too – and equally difficult to find on original vinyl or for that matter reissue CD (outside of Japan that is). But I dig them all so much. Like so many great bands of the period - Humble Pie made a sound that is 'so' British Rock 'n' Roll and like the Faces and The Stones – engender an affection that is actually warranted and has lasted (now nearly into five decades).

"Natural Born Bugie..." is a brill little twofer-CD that's still available for about eight quid or less and it’s safe to say I’ll be returning to this set of 1969 yesterdays for years to come. Great stuff...
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