First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
Peter Frampton is an astonishingly good guitarist, though this notion frequently has been lost amidst the bright lights of his meteoric rise and cataclysmic fall during the latter half of í70s. Nevertheless, his first all-instrumental outing Fingerprints is designed specifically to remind the world of his prowess. Granted, these sorts of endeavors generally have a tendency toward becoming overstuffed with egomaniacal showboating, and had it come at an earlier point in Framptonís career, the album very well might have suffered a similar fate. However, although the liner notes contain the usual technical mumbo jumbo of who played what vintage instrument, the set itself is surprisingly approachable.
Surrounded by an array of his pals, including Govít Muleís Warren Haynes, Pearl Jamís Mike McCready, and the Rolling Stonesí Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, Frampton covers a tremendous amount of ground as he explores the various combinations of jazz, blues, and rock. Fortunately, the gimmicky talk-box effects that made him famous are relegated to only a pair of Fingerprintsí tracks: Grab a Chicken (Put It Back) and a cover of Soundgardenís Black Hole Sun. Although his eerily textured vocals paints the fringes of the formerís loose, funky groove, the latter song serves as one of the albumís least interesting moments ó in spite the squalling interplay between Frampton and McCready. Faring far better is the Django Reinhardt-infused acoustic track Souvenirs de Nos PŤres (Memories of Our Fathers), on which Frampton and John Jorgenson highlight their graceful, lyrical styles. Likewise, My Cup of Tea begins as a straightforward survey of contemporary jazz, but it slowly picks up steam as Frampton and Hank Marvin engage each other in a manner that recalls the give-and-take of Duane Allman and Eric Clapton in Derek & the Dominoes. Elsewhere, the melancholy mood of Float is reminiscent of David Gilmourís work with Pink Floyd, and the breezy Ida Y Vuelta (Out and Back) brings Mark Knopflerís epic journeys to mind.
Clocking in at more than 55 minutes in length, thereís little doubt that Fingerprints is a tad bloated. Even so, Framptonís playful approach to the project succeeds in keeping the set aloft. Better still, anyone who thinks that Show Me the Way, Do You Feel Like We Do, and Baby, I Love Your Way demonstrate the full range of Framptonís abilities likely will be delighted by Fingerprintsí wide-ranging contents as well as by the dexterous fluidity and emotional edginess of his playing.
49th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Pop Instrumental Album
Of Further Interest...
Fingerprints is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box