What does it sound like?:
Steve Marriott was a rarity – an instantly recognisable voice, sublime on rockers and soulful material alike. And a mean guitarist too, whether part of Humble Pie’s “Rockin The Filmore” thunder or on the more stripped back hard rock 3 piece bands he fronted across the 80’s. A mercurial character (described well in Jerry Shirley’s “Best Seat In The House”) at times prone to self-destruction, his years leading a stadium filling super group saw him broke and mistrustful of the music business, He eschewed mainstream record company interest in later years, often to the frustration of his bandmates, touring endlessly to earn some cash as well as do what he loved – live performance. And to think he turned down Keith Richard’s request to replace Brian Jones.
Since his death in April 1991 there’s been no shortage of posthumous material – 20 albums or so, most taken from live recordings made during his post Pie years. What makes this release stand out a little is that each disc in this 4 CD set features a different gig from Steve’s final tour in January 1991 including his last UK gig at the Half Moon in Putney.
Although there’s a lot of overlap between each disc, there are some notable tracks. The encore from the Half Moon gig sees Peter Frampton join Steve for a their first ever live rendition of “Natural Born Bugie”. At the time the two were considering working together again in a band that may or may not have been called “I Should Coco”.
Steve was always happy to play the “hits” (Bernie Marsden tells the tale of being given a full on bollocking from Steve for being po-faced about not playing Whitesnake songs after he had left the band) and all the staples of Steve’s live work over the years are here and performed with some vigour – “Fool For A Pretty Face”, “All Or Nothing”, “Watcha Gonna Do About It” and “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, A curio is the inclusion of a song he swore he would never do live – “Itchycoo Park”. A real stand out is the cover of Eddie Boyd’s s “Five Long Years” where Steve’s guitar work gives me chills. Chuck Berry gets the nod twice on “Talking ‘Bout You” and an instrumental “Memphis Tennessee” which opens each show.
Overall it has to be said the sound quality is uneven. The Half Moon and Esslingen sets are flat and tinny and tape hiss is often very much to the fore. Fortunately, the quality of the Hamburg and the Frankfurt gigs is a lot better, and this release is worth it just for these sets alone.
What does it all *mean*?
Cheeky East End chappy has golden pipes
Goes well with…
A greasy whore and a rollin dance floor
Might suit people who like…
Newcastle Brown, completeism