And not so gradually, the wheels started to fall off. This was the “going through the motions” album. Except that the cover art was beautifully done, and tons of money was spent on the band to go through the motions to record this album. The funny thing is, when you peek inside the liner notes, you get the true meaning of what a “thunderbox” really is, because here are two naked women staring you in the face, about to go to the toilet! Ah, only in the 70’s…. Marriott and crew have not completely given up the ghost but it is clear, they are now on the tail end of their journey. The album is listed as being recorded at “Olics Sound, somewhere east of Guatemala”, and more than half of the 12 tracks are covers now. Additionally, the Humble Pie originals are all co-writes with one or more of the band members being involved, even though Marriott is listed as the sole producer. So, as one could probably tell, even before the Street Rats debacle, it could be argued the Pie was out of gas at the time of recording this album. Still, that did not prevent them from giving their all on quite a few tracks here and there. For example…. The title track – IMHO – is awesome, although quite indicative of the pickle the group now found themselves in. Subject matter-wise, it is frivolous, although if you think about it, the group was ahead of the curve in one respect – they recorded a catchy-as-hell ode to the women’s posterior, only about 20 years too early. “Thunderbox” is dirty, nasty, dripping with sex appeal, and probably containing about two or three STD’s doctors had not identified up to that point. It is also extremely self-referential – at least from Marriott’s point of view – even though Clempson, of all people, is jointly credited as well. If this song got a re-release in the early 90’s it would blow those wimpy Black Crowes off the charts. As it is, I fondly remember it as one of the high points of this record. Too bad it is the only original track from the group that stands out here. Where they shine is on the cover tunes, for the most part. Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain” is given the show-tune treatment, presumably to highlight Steve’s vocals, which despite all of his self-abuse is a wise choice. This is followed by a gentle, soft rock-ish take on “Anna (Go to Him)” which is still rough and raw thanks to Marriott’s raspy vocal, but still, quite nice. Ridley’s only lead vocal is a near show-stealer, on “Drift Away”. They make this track sound more like Ian Hunter-era Mott the Hoople, curiously enough. Finally, the cover of “Ninety-Nine Pounds” is another classic take on R&B from this era of Humble Pie – slick and thick! That is the good material. As far as the rest of the lot goes – well, let’s take “Rally with Ali”, for instance, which is nothing more than a basic groove, Steve Marriott talking a bunch of disconnected shit related to Muhammad Ali, followed by the rest of the band chanting “Rally with Ali” every so often. As with the title track, it’s also indicative of the album in general – this was a group running itself ragged, as by this time they were working on multiple recording projects as well as touring without any rest to speak of. Tracks five through seven – “No Way”, the aforementioned “Rally with Ali”, and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – sound indistinguishable from each other, and it does not feel accidental. My take here is that a good half of an album was an accomplishment, considering the difficulties.