Full disclosure: I love this band. I have an irrational love of their next two albums, both of which I have listened to way too many times. So even though this record is acknowledged as a bit of a mess I knew I wanted to listen to it anyway and I knew I would like it.
Regardless of material, I remain impressed by the narrative: two bands, neither of which played Stonesy R&B and rock and roll, fell apart and so formed this third band that performed Stonesy R&B and rock and roll. Now matter how familiar I am with Small Faces, the Jeff Beck Group and Faces, I cannot get over how weird this all seems (and likely seemed at the time). It’s weird. (What’s weirder is that Marriott left the Small Faces so he could play his own music, which sounds an awful lot like this. Though I definitely prefer Faces to Humble Pie.)
So, I have to get to it eventually: the material is not exactly stellar. Or, rather, there’s too much material for a band like this and some of that material does not need to be here. The instrumentals in particular are totally unnecessary. It’s the plague of many a debut album but all of these guys were veterans by this point so it’s interesting that they made that mistake. (My guess is that they were just really enthusiastic.) They would improve vastly as songwriters the next time out.
It’s kind of insane that at least one critic at the time described this band as too precise. Even this early they are almost hilariously loose, threatening to fall apart at any moment. (Though not to the extend of later records.) That has an immense appeal for me, both because I like that in general but also because it’s so counter to everything that was happening in music at the time.
I should rate this lower but, alas, I like it too much. I knew I would.