Rough Around the Edges

That first cup of coffee in the morning is always the best. I like mine strong, black and very hot. The espresso machine in the Workshop is almost as essential as the shaper or router. Some folks like to cut the brew with milk or cream, and others smooth the edges with sugar—but not me. I like to taste the coffee.


Right now I’m listening to Humble Pie’s live rendition of I Don’t Need No Doctor from their Rockin’ the Fillmore album, and I’m struck by the fact that it is a rough and tumble as it is beautiful. What stands out most to me is the fact that I can eassily distinguish each singer’s voice as they harmonize the chorus. I’m not talking about the notes—but rather the individual character of each singer. There’s bassist Greg Ridley down low and gruff with the unmistakable Peter Frampton in the middle. Above all of that is the legendary wail of Steve Marriott, bobbing and weaving like only he could.

As sloppy as Pie could be, there was a certain cohesion that made it work. Ray Charles’ 1966 version was smooth and soulful, for sure, and it served as the introduction of this song to many artists, but Humble Pie takes it to an altogether different and manic place. I’ve listened to this recording plenty of times since it I first heard it in 1971, and every single time it has me on the edge of my seat admiring how it rocks on the rails threatening to crash, but somehow still stays on the tracks. And that’s what great rock music is all about.

Speaking of  black coffee, have anothe slice of Pie with that.

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Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands. Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.

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