Banish all thoughts of blond bubble perms, voice boxes and continent conquering live...
Mick Fitzsimmons 2003-11-05
Banish all thoughts of blond bubble perms, voice boxes and continent conquering live albums. Peter Frampton is back, freshly shorn and modelling a new brand of monochromatic moodiness on the sleeve.
Frampton made an unlikely pop sensation when he came alive in the mid 70s and wound up on the walls (and stereos) of millions of middle-American teenagers. Since then, it's been diminishing returns all round, but he's continued to plough away regardless, releasing the occasional album of tasteful rock. Just like this, in fact.
Frampton originally made his name as a fledgling guitar hero in Mod nearly-rans The Herd, before hooking up with Steve Marriot in the first incarnation of Humble Pie prior to solo stardom. Unsurprisingly, the playing is faultless throughout, and fans of classic British guitar rock will find much to enjoy. From the bluesy shuffle of "Flying Without Wings" (not the Westlife track, thank God) to the moody atmospherics of ''Greens'', there's a nice range of styles on display. We also get a cover of George Harrison's dour "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", always a safe refuge for any rock god wishing to spank his plank with impunity.
The odd acoustic track offers respite from the axe heroics, allowing Frampton to show off his winning way with understated vocal melodies, even if the lyrics occasionally resort to clichés. Frampton also contributes a moment of unintentional hilarity with his assertion that 'I think in English but my blood is Russian'. Go on, think about it...
Now is expertly played, nicely sung, perfectly produced, and completely inoffensive listening. It's also rather forgettable, but who can begrudge Frampton the chance to settle into a comfortable and dignified middle age?