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&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.




Jeff Matthews said...

Glad you got a chance to also listen to Thank You Mr Churchill, Sal. A real return to form.
I got to know Frampton when we happened to live in Cincinnati from 2001-2006. He lived in my neighborhood and his daughter Mia (now an actress) was in my son's grade at school. We had them over for dinner a few times. He has aged gracefully, and he has a good sense of humor about his years in the wilderness ("It all went downhill when the teenyboppers bought FCA"). Now he's getting divorced from his Cincinnati wife, just while he's in a career renaissance - coincidence? Maybe not...

melvinrussell said...

Pencil me in as a fan. Try out his "Live in Detroit" LP too. Good stuff.

Alan said...


Hold on one cotton picking minute. I wear a Speedo. Always have, always will. I can't believe you've taken up this tired cliche as an obvious example of a mistake that everyone will understand and mock. Sheesh. I expected better.

Signed, Alan Brickman, President, Banana Hammock and Grape Smuggler League.

Sal Nunziato said...


First draft had "a perm" instead of a Speedo.

Shriner said...

But without "I'm In You", we never would have gotten Zappa's "I Have Been In You" (!)

steve simels said...

All Night Long from Frampton's Camel is a great song. Good enough that Roger McGuinn covered it, and well.

It's hard to believe that at the time Frampton was considered tres hip on what was then the hard-rock underground of the early 70s.

cmealha said...

I was a Peter Frampton fan beginning with his stint in Humble Pie and continuing with his solo career. No matter what he put out it was going to be a letdown after "Frampton Comes Alive". But I gotta tell you, he opened for everyone before he got huge and he never failed to put on a good show. Good music, great guitar, totally professional. He worked hard and deserved eveything he got and then some.

Sal Nunziato said...

If you're even paying attention, "a perm" actually made it, so nevermind.

A walk in the woods said...

Sal, the other day I heard "Do You Feel Like We Do" at a truckstop stopping for some BBQ -- it was about, oh, 18 minutes into that grand opus -- and for that one shining moment in the sun, I was certain it was the finest composition mankind has ever writ.

So I don't need much convincing to hop on the Frampton train. Thanks for this little mix b/c I have some of it on vinyl (along with 23 million other Americans) but not digitized.

Also, to those who might have missed the request to donate yesterday -- don't forget to see yesterday's post, folks! Throw Sal some funding, his blog deserves it!

A walk in the woods said...

Oh, and I LIKE "I'm In You" nonetheless. So there. Takes me back to being 10 years old and not knowing double entendres yet...

FD13NYC said...

I've always liked Frampton a lot. From his Pie days and the solo stuff, to a certain degree. A truly good guitarist and songwriter. His voice wasn't bad either.

Speaking from a past BW post, when an artist reaches their peak and the musical magic starts to wane over the years, it spreads out to a far listening reach.

If one of your favorite artists perseveres through all that, they still deserve a little attention.

Frampton past or present will always have mine.

Bada Bing Crosby said...

I like "I'm in You" too. I think the hate was just part of the inevitable Frampton backlash (Sgt. Peppers didn't help either). Probably Pete wasn't dangerous enough. He shoulda went late 70's decadent instead of looking like an guitar playing Leif Garrett.

buzzbabyjesus said...

No f*ck him. He's a wanker who was in Humble Pie for a handful of albums.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I had "Frampton" before all the hoopla, as I'd been quite fond of Humble Pie's "Rock On", so I downloaded your file and am reminded all over again what a lite-weight talent he was. Definitely on a par with Hootie and the Blowfish.
Or Coldplay. Competent but no balls.

Sal Nunziato said...


I don't think there's any question over who had more balls. Steve Marriott had more balls than Spalding. But my point is, Frampton has had a career, before and after his talk box and preening. It was a period that he should not be as ashamed of as so many are.

Fine if you want to trash "Comes Alive," but calling well-written pop and rock tunes with hooks and melody trash, seems unfair.

buzzbabyjesus said...

At the same time, I'm really glad you brought this up. Pete never meant me harm by making music.
Always good to re-evaluate. Who is next I wonder?