I'm In Love With That Song: Humble Pie - "Thunderbox"
You've heard the music now. Here's the story from director frank marshall. Hbo's new documentary the bg's how can you mend a broken heart. Chronicles the highs and lows of brothers berry maurice and robin gibb and the evolution of the prolific career as the bg's through interviews and never before seen footage discover how they navigated the ever changing music industry and complex dynamics of family and fame. Watch it now on hbo and hbo. Max this is the. I'm in love with that song. Podcast and i am your host brad. Page each episode of the show. I pick one of my favorite songs and we take a look at it. i'm not talking about clinical dissection of the song. We're not getting into music theory here. We're just looking at how the song was put together how it was performed and recorded. What was the history where came from on this episode. We're helping ourselves to a slice of humble pie with a song called thunder box. The idea of the supergroup became a thing in the late sixties. The first supergroup was probably cream in nineteen sixty six and soon there were a whole bunch of some more super than others. Humble pie was one of the early. British super groups formed in one thousand nine hundred sixty nine. When steve mariot left the small faces to start a new band with peter frampton who had just left his band called the heard they were both tired of being marketed as teen idols and wanted to be seen as serious musicians. They recruited greg ridley. Who was playing bass for spooky tooth and one relative newcomer a seventeen year. Old drummer named jerry shirley. They released their debut album in august nineteen. Sixty-nine it's a mix of blues rock and acoustic tracks. Interestingly this is one of the first probably not the first but one of the first albums to be referred to as heavy metal. It was in a review in rolling stone magazine. That heavy metal was one of the terms. Used to describe this album though. Nobody today would listen to this album and think of it as heavy metal. A second album followed that was more acoustic than the first and to be honest. I'm not really a big fan of those first two albums but they were exploring trying to find their sound. It wasn't until their fourth album called rock on that they really hit on a winning formula. Then good now have seen some people eight to trade on your feet. No conscience campy. Seen how do brick walls into next day released a live album called performance rockin the fillmore in november nineteen seventy one and that was their breakthrough album becoming their first gold record. Been a pass. And then peter frampton quit. He was replaced by clem clemson from the band coliseum with climb in the band they continue to move in a heavier direction and steve mariot moved firmly into the spotlight next. They recorded an album called smokin which was their biggest hit yet but it also turned out to be their commercial peak God that stephen still singing the background vocals on that track hot nasty though they had a solid fan base and sold a decent amount of records. They couldn't compete with bands like led zeppelin and their record. Company am records was getting frustrated. Humble pie responded with a massive double album that was all over the place. one side was all original material. One side was all classic. R&b songs side three was more acoustic stuff and side. Four was a full on rock in live concert recording laugh not a thing only pay us whereas don we talked about steve mary on this podcast before back in episode fifty four on the small faces and tin soldier despite being short white. British kid steve. Mary loved rb music and could belt out a soulful vocal like he always wanted to have a group of female backing singers in the band. And around this time he finally got his wish. Veneta fields cloudy king and shirley matthews who was later replaced by billie barnum became the blackberries and joined humble pie in the studio and on stage and these women were legit veneta fields worked with tina turner recorded with pink floyd and the rolling stones just to name a few cloudy king had been a member of the rae. Let's with ray charles. And would go into work with bob dylan and elton john. These singers were the real deal. Unfortunately that double album fell short of the commercial success of their previous albums so under pressure the band returned to the studio to make their next record. They ended up with twelve tracks. Only four of them were originals. arrest recovers. it seemed like the band was running out of steam. And let's face it. The drugs and the alcohol were definitely taking a toll. They released an album in february. Nineteen seventy four. It was called thunder box. Thunder box is a slang term from the seventeenth century for a toilet. That gives some idea where the band's heads were at and their sense of humor. The album cover was a wooden door with a die. Cut keyhole that. You could peek through to see well. You figured out. It may be inappropriate and immature. But it's one of my all time. Favorite record covers the song. Thunder box is the first song on the album and opens the record with the kind guitar. Riff that i am an absolute sucker for a few seconds of that. Riff and i am hooked. Then you add those backing vocals by the blackberries. And i'm all in and there's a cowbell because it would be a crime not to put a cowbell here. There's a quick keychains higher which ups the ante. And then steve mariot says. Wait a minute and starts wailing on the harmonica. It is double tracking his vocal here. He's not trying to duplicate the parts. Exactly he's allowing for variation for effect now that part there there's a shift in the groove previously. The was on the back beats of two and four one to four one two four in this section. The emphasis has switched to beats one and three one three one three it switches back and forth between those two groups which really gives it a great feel. Let's listen to that whole section. Someone's playing a shaker here. Notice how the backing vocals following the guitar part here. I loved his harmonica. Lick here by combat and checkout greg. Ridley on the base here. Here's a great guitarist. And a great vocal by marian listen to the beat. Jerry surely is laying down especially his snare drum work listened to the blackberries doing their thing and notice. How the shaker comes up in the mix just for this little section greg ridley's basis great through this whole part the blackberries backing vocals who really what makes the section work and i love the way. The whole ban works disprove right to the end the bass and drums backing vocals. The harmonica on this is what a great band sounds. Kim thunder box spy humble pie. The album of the same name was a steph. Didn't even reach the top fifty and sank into obscurity. The band was spent creatively and financially and when they took some time off to figure out their next move their manager and record company literally stole a bunch of demos in rough tracks from mariot studio and released it as a half assed album called street rats. Without the band's input that album was a commercial disaster. The band hated the record. And it ended up being a final nail in the coffin. For humble pie they broke up soon after the years. That followed were tough. Steve mariot new bands and old reunions came and went but nothing caught on. Mariot spent most of the nineteen eighties in relative obscurity. Former humble pie member. Peter frampton became massively successful of course but by the eighties his star faded to in nineteen ninety. Frampton reached out to marry to see if he'd be interested in working together. It had been almost twenty years since they went their separate ways but when they reconnected it clicked right away. They wrote a new song together on their first day. Back mariot joined frampton l. a. to continue writing. Put a band together and get a record deal. Everything was falling into place on april twentieth. Nineteen ninety-one married and his wife flew back to england to wrap up a few things. They arrived home jetlagged and exhausted but excited about the prospects. They invited a friend to dinner to celebrate than they went back to his place after eventually they were too tired party anymore and crashed his place but then mary it woke up and wanted to go home to sleep in his own bed so he left his wife behind. Took a cab home. He settled into his own bed with a drink and a cigarette. He passed out and then awoke to find the room on fire with the smoke filling his lungs he frantically tried to escape but in a days he opened the wrong door and stumbled into a closet by mistake and collapsed. That's where the firemen found his body. The fire was caused by that last cigarette. St mary was forty four years old. Greg ridley died from pneumonia in two thousand and three at the age of fifty six. But clemson jerry shirley and peter frampton are still alive today around my desk where i record this podcast are a few mementos that i like to keep around. One of them is an old promotional photograph of humble pie in the blackberries taken around. The time of this album hadn't quite fallen apart for humble pie at that point though the problems were there but times were good in this picture for long haired white guys. Three black women embracing and mugging for the camera. This looks like the band that you want to be in. That'll do it for this episode of the i'm in love with that song podcast. I'll be back in about two weeks with another episode. If you'd like to catch up on all our previous episodes you can find them. All on our website. Love that song. Podcast dot com. You can connect with us on facebook. Just search for the. I'm in love with that song. Podcast you'll find. Is there or you can follow the show. Twitter along with a bunch of other great podcasts. At pop staff tweets. This show is part of the pantheon. Podcast network home to many great music related shows. Be sure to check them out. Thanks for listening. Here's humble pie one more time with thunder box Nothing in your. Dan new day And needed your own streaming now on red box on demand experiencing credible rise of legendary blues artists joe bonham masa guitar man featuring behind the scenes interviews and live concert footage with some of the biggest names in music. String guitar man instantly on your smart tv or favorite device with the rent box app today rated pg thirteen from paramount pictures.