Humble Pie – Town and Country (1969)

Artist Credit
Peter Frampton Composer, Guitar, Vocals
Humble Pie Composer, Primary Artist
Anthony Jones Composer
Steve Marriott Composer, Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
Bobby Montgomery Composer
Norman Petty Composer
Greg Ridley Bass, Composer
Jerry Shirley Composer, Drums

“Town and Country” was Humble Pie’s second studio album, released in November 1969 in the UK only.

Conceived at Steve Marriott’s 16th-century rural cottage “Arkesden” in Moreton, Essex, England, “Town and Country” offered a different, more sensitive pastoral approach from the more straightforward “heavy” progressive sound prevalent on their debut album, which had been released a mere two months earlier. Like the band’s early live shows, which opened with an acoustic set before returning with electric guitars in the second half of the show, “Town and Country” displayed an eclectic mix of acoustic ballads, country-rock, folk and blues, with a couple of hard rock songs to balance things out. Unlike the debut LP, all four members of the band contributed solo compositions to the album. Musically, Peter Frampton contributed acoustic, Spanish, and lead guitars, Steve Marriott played guitar, sitar, percussion and keyboards, and took a rare turn on bass. Bassist Greg Ridley also contributed guitar and tambourine, while Jerry Shirley handled not only his drum kit, but added a percussion saw on the first cut, as well as tambourine, tablas, maracas, and Wurlitzer piano on his own composition “Cold Lady”.

Amongst the more memorable Marriott-composed tracks were his country rock-flavoured compositions of contrasting mood, “Every Mother’s Son”, “The Sad Bag Of Shakey Jake” and “Down Home Again”. Frampton’s delicate but atmospheric lead guitar work throughout the album is also worthy of note and his compositions “Take Me Back”, “Only You Can See” and “Home and Away” (a nominal co-write with Marriott and Ridley) nod vigorously in the direction he would take in his later solo career. The album also included a driving but tasteful cover of the classic Buddy Holly song “Heartbeat”.

The album was produced by Andy Johns at Olympic Studios. Johns was the younger brother of famed producer Glyn Johns who himself had a previous production association with Marriott.

Most, if not all, of the material on the album dated back to recordings in the spring and early summer of 1969, when the band recorded as much as three albums’ worth of material (the remaining recordings were eventually compiled and released in 1999 on the bands’ “The Immediate Years: Natural Born Boogie” collection).

While the band toured exhaustively for the last half of the year to hone their onstage skills and generate interest with the record-buying public, their record label Immediate Records was on the verge of financial collapse. Immediate rush-released the album into UK record shops in November 1969, hoping it would enter the charts before the company went bankrupt. With no budget to promote it, however, the album quickly sank without a trace despite any artistic merits it may have had. The LP wasn’t released at all in the US at the time even though the band was currently on their first American tour, but it still managed to garner favourable attention on underground FM radio stations. As a result, the album bolstered the group’s reputation despite its lack of availability, the record company’s imminent collapse, and disappointing sales.

After this album, Humble Pie returned to what would become their trademark “heavy” sound, and concentrated their efforts on breaking into the US market. Following Frampton’s departure in 1971, the band would continue in the “boogie rock” vein until the remaining and replacement members disbanded in 1975.

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