Eat It was yet another double LP set and it turned out to be their least essential, even though there are some good-to-great tracks to be found. The decision was made to hole up in Marriott’s home studio for months, to work on a massive undertaking which, in retrospect, comes off a bit like a mere vanity project. Freer rein was given in the form of three female backup singers, now known as The Blackberries. Their credibility with R&B-influenced musicians went through the roof, but audiences were most likely confused by the combination of soulful belters backing this ruffian bunch of English rockers used to entertaining the long-haired, drunken/druggie concert-going kids of early-70’s America. There are four separate, meant-to-be-distinct sides: the first one consists of normal, hard-driven Humble Pie fare, the second filled with downhome authentic R&B covers, the third is the softer, acoustic side of the group, and the fourth is of a portion of a live performance. The issue here, though, is a big technical one – because most of this was recorded in Marriott’s home studio, the mix was mixed up to the point where the studio tracks sound like muddy demos or rough live cuts. Ironically, the name of his home studio was Clear Sounds. Someone in their camp was either too lax or stoned to point this out in advance of the record being released. The only exception to this was the third, mainly acoustic side. That said, there is the backbone of a damn good album here. The whole first and second sides, once you get past the technical issues, are a neat continuation of the sound the band was going for on Smokin’. In some instances, because it sounds so raw, I actually prefer these versions over the slicker stuff of the previous effort. “Drugstore Cowboy” is the perfect example of what I am referring to. Even though 85% of the time Marriott’s vocal is buried down somewhere in the recesses of your left speaker, he somehow manages to drive this track by sheer willpower alone, overpowering those shrieking Blackberries if need be. The cover of “Black Coffee” is at turns the dumbest and most perfect thing Marriott and the group could have ever done. When it first comes on and Steve utters the initial line, you think “what the hell are they doing?” And then when it ends, you think, “this is too good, why is it ending NOW???” They also cover Ray Charles’ “I Believe to My Soul” in the old “show-tunes” style which is much appreciated, and even the cover of “Shut Up and Don’t Interrupt Me”, which had to have been done as a total lark, just seems to fit like a glove. The last side is good, too. Their take on “Honky Tonk Women” is OK, but the real winners are “Up Our Sleeves”, which was reasonably close to “Four Day Creep” which opened the Fillmore set, and an extended version of “Road Runner”. I guess I was least impressed with the third side, although of the four tracks “Beckton Dumps” was a real strong rocker in the typical Pie mold. However, the personal acoustic exercises I found to be forced, just scratching the surface mood-wise, then placed on the record for contrast. Overall, I like this one, but I can see it getting on people’s nerves really quick, and everything, right down to the basic format, could be construed as annoying to the average listener.