Sunday, 28 September 2014

"Humble Pie" by HUMBLE PIE (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2016 JAPAN-Only Universal/A&M SHM-CD Reissue and Remaster - 2007, 2009 and 2016 in Repro Mini LP Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Won't You Live With Me…"

Although I personally love their first two studio 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 album released in the summer of that explosive year and their ‘rawk’ sound that we all know and love properly emerge. 

“Humble Pie” was originally UK released on A&M Records AMLS 986 in July 1970 (September 1970 in the USA on A&M Records SP 4270) – their third studio album and the British band’s first for Herb Albert’s burgeoning Rock label. “Humble Pie” had a good straightforward 8-track CD reissue on Germany’s Repertoire label in 2005 in a digipak (Repertoire REPUK 1080 - Barcode 4009910108024). But I’d argue that the stunning 24-bit Digital Remaster carried out in Japan in 2007 (and used ever since) is a whole different sonic ballgame.

But in 2018 - I calculate there are now no less four Japanese release dates for SHM-CD reissues – and I’d like to sort out what’s what. “Humble Pie” by HUMBLE PIE first appeared 14 February 2007 in Japan on Universal/A&M UICY-93219 (Barcode 4988005459732) in a 5” Mini Album Sleeve Repro which even aped the stippled effect of the original A&M 1970 album and its gorgeous gatefold artwork. It came with a Japanese worded booklet, an outer OBI strip – but most importantly it had a new 2007 24-bit remaster. But - as is the habit in Japan with these ‘supposed’ limited editions – they seem to get reissued every two or three years and that’s what’s happened here.

22 April 2009 saw the second Japanese SHM-CD version on Universal/A&M UICY-94066 (Barcode 4988005555151) that also used the 2007 remaster. 

Third came 22 December 2010 using the 2007 Remaster – a SHM-CD in a jewel case only on Universal/A&M UICY-22093 (Barcode 4988005638953). There were only four titles in this series -"Humble Pie", "Rock On", "Performance - Rockin' The Fillmore" and "Smokin'".

And now this fourth outing – "Humble Pie" by HUMBLE PIE reissued 23 November 2016 on Universal/A&M Records UICY-77977 (Barcode 4988031188101) – the latest version again using that 2007 Remaster). If you cut and paste any 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).

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. Let’s get to the music (42:40 minutes):

1. Live With Me [Side 1]
2. Only A Roach
3. One Eyed Trouser-Snake Rumba
4. Earth And Water Song
5. I’m Ready [Side 2]
6. Them from Skint – See You Later Liquidator
7. Red Light Mamma, Red Hot!
8. Sucking On The Sweet Vine

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…

They would release the forgotten “Rock On” album in March of 1971 (their second studio platter for A&M) and then in November of that huge year for Rock destroy all comers with the mighty “Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore” – the kind of live double you go absolutely nuts about (to this day just looking at its sleeve makes me weak at the knobbly knees). “Smokin’” from 1972 and the underrated double-album “Eat It” from 1973 still had their moments of HP magic - but after that it all seemed to plunge downhill fast in a blizzard of drugs, tantrums and health issues. Best we remember them in their glory years.

At roughly a twenty-spot or a wee bit more (in the right places) - these 2016 Japanese SHM-CD reissues can be pricey I know. But if you’re a fan – seek them out – both sonically and visually - they’re so worth it…

PS: Titles in the 23 November 2016 Japanese SHM-CD Reissue Series:
1. “Humble Pie” (1970) – Universal/A&M UICY-77977 (Barcode 4988031188101)
2. Rock On” (1971) – Universal/A&M UICY-77978 (Barcode 4988031188118)
3. “Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore” (1971, Live 2LP Set onto 1CD) – Universal/A&M UICY-77979 (Barcode 4988031188125)
4.“Smokin’” (1972) – Universal/A&M UICY-77980 (Barcode 4988031188132)
5. “Eat It” (1973) – Universal/A&M UICY-77981 (Barcode 4988031188149)
6.“Thunderbox” (1974) – Universal/A&M UICY-77982 (Barcode 4988031188095)
7.“Street Rats” (1975) – Universal/A&M UICY-77983 (Barcode 4988031188156) – 11 Tracks
8. “Street Rats – UK Version” (1975) – Universal/A&M UICY-77984 (Barcode 4988031188163) – 15 Tracks

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