Fingerprints

Peter Frampton

To this day, many still think of Peter Frampton as a fleeting phenomenon of the 70s whose only claim to fame is Frampton Comes Alive. But close followers know better. Before fame took over his life, Frampton was known primarily as the lead guitarist of Humble Pie, one of Britain's most potent and hard rockin' blues bands of the early 70s. Fortunately, through all the highs and lows, Frampton has remained true to his instrument. Balancing a steady solo career, he's backed the likes of Ringo Starr and David Bowie as a lead guitarist, becoming a world-class axe man of sorts who just happened to be a Rolling Stone cover boy in 1976. Now, Frampton has heeded a lifelong dream and recorded an all-instrumental album entitled Fingerprints. Simple, eloquent and extremely well-crafted, the guitarist and his impressive roster of heavy friends deliver a record that makes for both a pleasurable listening experience and insight into one of music’s brightest stars.

Frampton runs the gamut from the get-go, indulging in a myriad of styles — acoustic jazz to blues to funky rock to atmospheric new-age and beyond. Whether he’s trading guitar licks with Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers/Govt. Mule) on “Blooze” or soaring over the English countryside on “My Cup Of Tea” with legendary guitarist Hank Marvin and drummer Brian Bennett of the Shadows along for the ride — Frampton consistently holds his own as a more than able-bodied player. He teams up with Rolling Stones Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman (a close friend since the 60s) for the sizzling “Cornerstones,” then skips ahead a couple of generations, recruiting guitarist Mike McCready and drummer Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam for “Blowin’ Smoke,” a searing, guitar-heavy original. The two Seattle grungers also join Frampton on a unique and smooth cover of the Soundgarden classic, “Black Hole Sun.”

Frampton’s versatility comes to light during “Double Nickels,” featuring Nashville pedal steel master Paul Franklin. “Souvenirs De Nos Pères” finds the guitarist and the Hellecasters' John Jorgenson imbibing the magical finesse of jazz legend Django Reinhardt with startling results. The Grammy nomination in 2000 for "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" must have kick started the former shaggy-haired, presently graying, thinning, bespectled guitarist’s desire to cut this album. Fingerprints will undoubtedly (and thankfully) fail to stir up the mania that surrounded Frampton Comes Alive 30 years ago, but Peter Frampton, his integrity never more intact, still has the chops to play the game with the big boys, no matter what shape, size, or ability.

~ Shawn Perry

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