Peter Frampton | Frampton Forgets The Words – New Studio Release Review

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Peter Frampton amassed 10 of his favorite pieces of music for his all-instrumental album for 2021, Frampton Forgets the Words. On this follow-up to 2019’s All Blues — and reminiscent of his 2007 Grammy Award-winning instrumental album, Fingerprints — not only do we get Peter Frampton and his band in fine fettle, but we also have the guitarist’s famous 1954 Les Paul “Phenix” guitar, thought forever lost in a plane crash, yet recovered and restored to its rightful owner, enabling the edge he needed to make this superb covers album.

Frampton is among the most celebrated guitarists in rock. Co-founding the supergroup, Humble Pie at the age of 18, making the talk box a signature effect, and then becoming a superstar solo act after exploding into the mainstream with Frampton Comes Alive (as Wayne Campbell says in the movie Wayne’s World 2: “Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs, you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide.”), Peter Frampton has been instrumental in some of our most iconic rock music ever produced. In addition to his solo career, he has collaborated with David Bowie, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ringo Starr. He also played on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.

It’s this last credit that Frampton subtly references on the video he released for his version of Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity,” which is featured on Frampton Forgets the Words. In a poignant video, nodding heavily to the COVID-19 pandemic, we see a forlorn Frampton watching his tour dates fade away and communicating over Zoom with his kids and grandkids all while sailing over the main melody of the Harrison ode. The inability to tour and contemplating the lockdown life struck Frampton especially hard, as he has been battling Inclusion body myositis (IBM) muscular disease for the past seven years, which forced him to call for his 2019 tour Finale The Farewell Tour.

Other standouts include the smooth brush applied to Roxy Music’s “Avalon” and the hard-driving delivery of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Going To My Way.” There is a complex, alluring read of David Bowie’s “Loving The Alien.” Frampton played extended solos on the song with longtime friend Bowie on the “Glass Spider” tour in 1987. On this version on Frampton Forgets the Words, the piano, strings, and the guitarist’s whaling lift the song to a whole other stratosphere. In what stratosphere we’ll be taken to in the not-so-distant future and how Peter Frampton will or will not be contributing to it remains to be seen. At least, we can enjoy the man’s expressive and perfect playing on Frampton Forgets the Words.

~  Ralph Greco, Jr.

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