Peter Frampton told journalist Richard Younger that it was in January 1969 that he and Steve had first got together. “I was round at Glyn Johns’s house listening to this new band he’d recorded, called Led Zeppelin. I’m drooling and my jaw is on the floor and was just turning the record over when the phone rings.” It was Steve Marriott saying that he had quit the Small Faces. Steve had already been helping Peter put his band together and he had found Jerry Shirley, the drummer with Apostolic Intervention who Peter wanted to use. Steve, once he had left the Small Faces, also said he could bring bass player Greg Ridley with him. Humble Pie soon began rehearsing. They were listening to the Band’s Music From Big Pink for musical inspiration – a fact born out by their debut album featuring their first single “Natural Born Bugie.”
On August 8, Humble Pie released their debut “Natural Born Bugie,” Steve Marriott’s composition, on the Immediate label; it was the second to last single release from the label that had been formed in 1965 by Andrew Loog Oldham, while still manager of the Rolling Stones. Humble Pie debuted “Natural Born Bugie” on the BBC in early August along with, “Desperation,” “The Sad Bag of Shaky Jake,” and “Heartbeat.” Of these four tracks only “Desperation,” written by Steppenwolf’s John Kay, appeared on their debut album, As Safe As Yesterday Is, that came out later in August. “Natural Born Bugie” was a single release and the other two tracks were held over until the group’s follow up album was released in November 1969.
“Natural Born Bugie” made No.4 on the UK charts, an excellent start for their first single. As Safe As Yesterday Is spent a month on the NME album chart, peaking at No.15. The record has the distinction of being the first in which a reviewer, in this case Metal Mike Saunders in Rolling Stone in November 1969, referred to music as “heavy metal.”
If you’ve never listened to As Safe As Yesterday Is, seek it out and give it a spin. It’s one of the most underrated debut albums ever to be released from any band. Full of great songs and some great playing – standout tracks are the title track, “As Safe As Yesterday Is” written by Steve and Peter, “Desperation,” and “What You Will.”
Listen to the best of Humble Pie on Spotify.