Humble Pie – Rock On – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Humble Pie

Rock On

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This record is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash, if you haven’t done so already.  

This is the sound WE LOVE here at Better Records, assuming the pressing in question still maintains some degree of presence, immediacy and transparency. Records like this can easily get thick and muddy; think of the typically dull Who’s Next or Sticky Fingers and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

But oh what a glorious sound it is when it’s working. There’s not a trace of anything phony up top, down low or anywhere in-between. This means it has a quality sorely at odds with the vast majority of audiophile pressiings, new and old, as well as practically anything recorded in the last twenty years, and it is simply this: The louder you play it the better it gets.

For that we must thank Glyn Johns. A short introduction follows.

It was only about five years ago that I discovered what an amazing engineer and producer Glyn Johns is. A Hot Stamper of the first Eagles album blew my mind, produced by none other, so I quickly started looking around for other records he might have had a hand in. How about Who’s Next? Let It Bleed? On The Border (my personal favorite Eagles album)? Led Zeppelin’s debut? Quadrophenia? And of course, Sticky Fingers, a record that I’ve always known had great sound — you can hear it buried under all that bad vinyl and groove wear. (You could hear it; you just couldn’t enjoy it.)

And just recently I was reading the liner notes for Graham Nash’s solo debut, Songs For Beginners, one of the best sounding rock records ever made, and who’s name should I see in the credits as mixing engineer, thirty plus years after I first fell in love with the album? The man himself of course. Here’s what we wrote:

The sound is of course superb throughout, in the best tradition of Crosby Stills and Nash’s classic early recordings: transparent, smooth and sweet, with loads of midrange magic; deep punchy bass (wait until you hear Better Days!); lovely extension on the top to capture the shimmer of the cymbals and harmonic trails of the acoustic guitars; and the whole balanced superbly by one of our all-time heroes, Glyn Johns.

Sides One and Two

The second side is the better of the two here, but not by much. It has wonderful transparency: just listen to all that studio echo around the drums, along with the breathy texture of the voices in the choruses. We rate it A++, very close to the best we heard.

Side one rates A+ to A++. It lacks a measure of richness on the second track that we heard on other copies, and the top is not quite as extended as it should be. Still, it rocks — the first two songs are excellent.

Peter Frampton

This is the band that Frampton matured in, but from an audiophile point of view, not a musical one, he seems to have picked up a few pointers from the likes of Mr. Johns about recording Big Rock Records. His first album, coming to the site soon we hope, has this kind of big production rock sound. I’ve been a fan of that album since I was in high school. Look for Frampton Hot Stampers coming to the site; we’ve found some, we just need to find the time to sit down and shoot them out.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Shine On 
Sour Grain 
79th And Sunset
Stone Cold Fever 
Rollin’ Stone

Side Two

A Song For Jenny 
The Light 
Big George
Strange Days 
Red Neck Jump

AMG 4 Star Rave Review

On this, their second album for A&M, Humble Pie proved that they were not the “minor league Rolling Stones” as people often described them. Led by the soulful Steve Marriot, the Pie was a great band in every sense of the word. Although Peter Frampton elevated himself to superstar status in just a few years, this album proves what an excellent lead guitarist he was. The record has an undeniable live feel to it, due in part to Glyn Johns’ humble yet precise recording, framing the group as if they were a boogie version of the Band. When all of these elements come together on songs such as “Sour Grain” and “Stone Cold Fever,” it’s an unbeatable combination.