Humble Pie - Town and Country, 1969.
I need to first mention that in this newly remastered release (also being the first version of this album to appear on Amazon when you search for 'Humble Pie') it seems to include every song from their first album 'As Safe As Yesterday (1968)', so it would be wise to never purchase this with the 'Better Together' selection, since it's just the first album. Which is on this album. Strange, but honestly, having both on one disk safes space and gives you extra awesome to listen to.
Anyway, on to the review.
This is the second album from Humble Pie, consisting of Steve Marriott on guitar and vocals, previously of 'The Small Faces,' Peter Frampton, also on guitar and vocals, previously of 'The Herd', but not even I have heard of them, so if you have, then I have to assume his prowess is very much known to you; Greg Ridley on bass guitar, previously of 'Spooky Tooth,' and drummer Jerry Shirley. With an album put together by the guys who had put out songs like 'Tin Soldier' (Marriott), or helped with the entire Spooky Two album (Ridley), you know you are in for a treat of musicianship and powerful, spirited vocals.
This is exactly what this album has to offer. Great rhythm section, killer bass lines, searing leads traded back and forth by Marriott and Frampton, great vocals not only by Marriott but also an incredibly rough-voiced Frampton, shown here in a completely different light than he is on his post-Pie solo records and even more so than on his 'Frampton Comes Alive!' album. The only song in which all of these elements does not come together is probably 'The Light of Love,' which is a attempt at experimentation, but just is not able to meld in with and falls quite short of the songs from the rest of the album.
Of noteworthy mention though, however, is the entirely acoustic piece, 'Every Mother's Son,' to my ears there is only the duel leads of Frampton and Marriott on guitar, no bass, no drums, no percussion. Every little bit of emotion is squeezed from both players and especially from Marriott's voice - leading to the magnificent crescendo that starts about halfway through and peaks at the very end with shouts of ecstasy from Marriott (that's one hell of a build up.)
Other tracks worth noting: 'Sad Bag of Shaky Jake,' probably the purest rocker on the album, but not in any sense of the word straightforward or bland. The fabulous mid-tempo rocker, 'Cold Lady,' with rough harmonies from at least two or three of the band members (the roughness is a good thing, adds to the song's already raw quality.) The thoroughly raucous and warmly emotional 'Down Home Again,' in which Steve Marriott's got a girl back home that calls him her own, but he calls his wife.
All in all, worthy of every 5 star I've given it, and it is a shame that more people seem to know nothing of this, or the album preceding and the one following. This, 'As Safe As Yesterday' (1968), and 'Humble Pie' (1970), are also both highly recommended.