Wednesday, August 17, 2011
He's Sorry. Now Can We Just Listen?
Have you ever made that big mistake, the one where you wished for an immediate do-over? The ill-advised comment that sounded brilliant in your mind but not so much once it hit air? A decision, maybe, that changed the course of events in your life? You know, a perm? A Speedo? A drunken message left on an answering machine? Writing, releasing, and choosing "I'm In You" as your new single and your album title after the biggest selling record of your career? We have all been Peter Frampton and we have, hopefully, all been forgiven.
I think Peter Frampton may still be paying the price.
If you've never been a fan, not even of "Frampton's Camel," or the almost perfect "Frampton" LP from 1974, then maybe this will be a waste of our time. But, I've been listening to a lot of Peter Frampton lately, and I've been hard-pressed to find any truly misguided or poorly executed material over the course of his 40 year solo career. Except, that one fercockta song.
"'I'm In You" is a damn good LP. There's a solid 1-2 Motown punch of "Road Runner" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," as well as one of my very fave Pete songs, "Tried To Love," a folky, R&amp;B tune with special guest Mick Jagger adding harmony vocals. As Bruce Eder says over at All Music, "It was almost inevitable that I'm in You would be thought of as a letdown no matter now good it was. I'm in You was successful on its own terms, and had Frampton recorded it before the live album, it would probably be very fondly looked back on."
I spent more time than I expected with his universally panned Atlantic Records output of the 80s, and it wasn't so bad. I can't blame him. I have Rudy Vallee records that sound less dated than records produced in the 80s. Frampton didn't try to outsmart anybody. He played his guitar, and made some hook-filled rock and roll. He showed up for work at a company that no longer cared.
His most recent release, "Thank You Mr. Churchill" is a collection of songs that should not be listened to with a wink and a nudge. Fuck irony. Great rock music is not easy to come by these days. Why let a solid set of music go untouched because of one 30 year old blunder?
And why doesn't anyone ever mention his guitar playing?
It seems to me that Peter Frampton has had a career. He's a class act. Look at the pic. He's wearing a Steve Marriott t-shirt! (I've had that album for 35 years and I only just noticed that.)
More of us should let the "I'm In You" punchline have a rest. It's about as funny these days as "Where's the beef." (Ok, sorry. That just made me laugh.) But seriously, as bad as it was, there are far worse songs than "I'm In You," and many of them are by artists who have garnered more respect than Mr. Frampton.
Here's a six pack to possibly get you curious.
ALL NIGHT LONG
EVERYTHING I NEED
TRIED TO LOVE
SIGNED, SEALED, &amp; DELIVERED