Right on the heels of the previous studio effort the Pie toured like madmen. Part of the deal was to capture material for a live album. Going by their reputation thus far, it seemed like the most logical move. Group and management settled on shows played at the Fillmore East on May 28-29, 1971. What was released became a huge influence on everyone for the rest of the decade. Arguably, this was THE album which created arena rock, like it or not. After this behemoth, if you were a touring band in the 70’s, you were required to release a live record. As far as Humble Pie goes, Fillmore and Rock On became a package deal – feeding off each other enough to drive both albums to Gold status and establishing the Pie as a force to be reckoned with. In their attempts to establish the band Stateside, management seemed to be in favor of Steve Marriott taking over the band and being the face of it all. Which would make logical sense. Steve was the main “face” of Small Faces, after all, so he did have tons of experience in this area. So, the decision was subconsciously made here, and this is the record where Marriott really steps to the forefront with his massive act. You can feel Frampton melting into the background while Steve scat-sings his way through a large part of “Rollin’ Stone”. One era is ending, and another was beginning. It’s hard not to feel great for Steve, though, because this is really his triumph. I’m not saying the rest band does not put on a great show, because they do, but let’s be real about this. The problem here is the very thing which brought me to value Humble Pie over a lot of other groups was their democratic spirit, which by the way, is certainly on display here as well. The goofy cover of “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, “I’m Ready”, “Four Day Creep, and of course, “Stone Cold Fever” – it’s as if the old Pie mechanisms haven’t changed one iota, right? And yet, these mammoth tracks in the middle of the record. “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” – which, admittedly, they had been doing since the early days – “Rollin’ Stone”, and the bubbling-under hit cover of “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. Bear witness to the power, and the glory, and never mind those dastardly subtleties. I think that is a big reason why I personally do not connect with this record as much as the earlier studio efforts, and why I think the later efforts are flawed without Frampton around to balance out Marriott and the rest of the band. Still, Fillmore, for many of the reasons already mentioned, is an essential stop in 1970’s hard rock. Just be warned, there are excesses a-plenty one will encounter.