When Steve Marriott left the Small Faces (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2012) to launch a new band in 1968, expectations were high. Marriott teamed with 18-year-old guitarist Peter Frampton, already a U.K. star through his work with The Herd, along with bassist Greg Ridley from Spooky Tooth, and 17-year-old drummer Jerry Shirley, who Steve Marriott had used as a session player for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Record Label. Humble Pie recorded four albums and several singles before achieving its U.S. breakthrough with 1971’s double-live set Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore.
Drawn from four shows played over two consecutive nights at Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East, Performance captured a red-hot band firing on all cylinders, distilling the crowd-pleasing heavy blues-rock style that had come to dominate the Brit foursome’s repertoire, and which would help to lay the foundation for the sound that would soon become known as heavy metal. Performance caught on in a big way with American listeners, hitting #21 on the U.S. album chart and becoming the Pie’s first Gold album.
Now, for the first time, Omnivore Recordings has gathered all four shows from Humble Pie’s historic Fillmore East stand in this lovingly packaged four-CD box set. No editing or resequencing took place — just the four sets exactly as they were played on May 28 and 29, 1971. The seven tracks that comprised the original album are joined here by 15 previously unissued performances — including the never-before-heard complete first set from May 28.
“My God, it just took my breath away,” Shirley said of hearing the new mixes by engineer Ashley Shepherd. “You feel like you’re sitting in the Fillmore East, five or six rows back. In the quiet bits, you could hear a pin drop, and in the loud bits, you can almost feel the room shaking. And all four shows caught Steve at the absolute zenith of his powers. It’s astonishing. I’m only sorry that he, Greg, and Dee aren’t around to enjoy it with the rest of us.”
Frampton also praises the vastly improved audio quality, and was especially happy to revisit the material that wasn’t used on the original LP. “It’s like a breath of fresh air after listening to one particular version,” he says. “The beauty of it is that you get three other completely different performances of most of the songs. And it’s great to hear Steve’s banter from all of the shows. We’ve lived with [imitates Marriott] ‘It’s really been a gas!’ for 40-odd years, and now there’s more.”
The deluxe compilation was produced by Frampton and Shirley with A&R coordination from Bill Levenson and Cheryl Pawelski containing detailed liner notes by Tim Cohan. The original engineer was multi-Grammy Award winner Eddie Kramer.
You may not need no doctor, but you do need Humble Pie’s Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore — The Complete Recordings.