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Humble Pie — I Need a Star in My Life (AKA The Scrubbers)
(Cleopatra CLO3175, 1976/2022, CD / 2LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2023-03-09

I Need a Star in My Life (AKA The Scrubbers) Cover art

Continuing on from the Joint Effort collection of previously unreleased Humble Pie recordings from the 70s, we have I Need a Star in My Life. These tracks would have been an album (possibly titled The Scrubbers) had the band’s label not rejected them. The core group at the time was Steve Marriott (vocals, guitar), Tim Hinkley (keyboards), and Greg Ridley (bass), and several other musicians are listed here, including Mel Collins, Boz Burrell, Clem Clempson, and B.J. Cole. The set saw release on a few independent labels back in the 90s, but they’re getting wider release now. The original liner notes say that the tracks were recorded at Marriott’s home studio in 1974, though the current version says they’re from 1974-76. It’s also a bit unclear who played what on which tracks: Ridley and Burrell are both listed on bass, and it seems that Clempson is probably the primary guitarist throughout, but the details are likely lost in the mists of time. On the 20 tracks, the band displays a wide range of different styles, mostly related to the blues in some way. “Captain Goatcabin's Balancing Stallions” is a strange music hall sing-along with a kind of “Rocky Raccoon” vibe; “She Moves Me Man” is a front-porch acoustic blues number complete with bird noises and clapping from a small but appreciative audience; “Shake” is a slow-grind electric blues; “Mona” is an R’n’B ballad with prominent organ and a horn section; “Bluegrass Interval” is a twangy tune with fake Southern American accents and prominent pedal steel; and “Lend Us a Quid” features two different simultaneous lead vocal parts on left and right, almost as if they recorded two takes and couldn’t decide which to keep. The album shows a band stretching out creatively, which was apparently not what their label wanted at the time, but with the value of hindsight, I don’t see why these ideas couldn’t have resulted in a couple of solid albums, given a bit more professional studio time and polish. As it is, they’re a bit rough around the edges production-wise, though the performances are solid. I’d still advise that a listener who’s unfamiliar with Humble Pie start with their proper studio albums, but for fans, this is a nice glimpse into the breadth they were capable of.

Filed under: Reissues, 2022 releases, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Mel Collins, B.J. Cole, Humble Pie

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