Nodding Off (9/07/2001)
Anthology: The History of Peter Frampton (A&M Records 2001) - Guitar hero Peter Frampton, who achieved unprecedented success with his 1976 concert set Frampton Comes Alive!, receives his first complete career overview with Anthology. Gathering songs from his earliest band, The Herd, through his work with Humble Pie and his 70's solo efforts, Anthology shows Frampton to be a major talent.
A major talent that unfortunately suffered a major stumble after his enormous success in the 70's. Explains Frampton, "I never wanted to do more than just play guitar. Instead, I got taken on this incredible journey. It did get a bit confusing and overwhelming at times, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."
Frampton first met success when he joined former Small Faces front man Steve Marriott to form Humble Pie. Recalls Frampton, "Thanks to FM radio in the States, there was no longer any necessity for a hit single. The beauty of that period was that you bought the album because you knew it was going to be good. For the first time, the record company actually put out the album you gave them. So we had the luxury of being very selfish, and just doing what we enjoyed."
The Humble Pie material is represented by five tracks, including "Live With Me" and "Shine On," and culminates in the awesome live version of "I Don't Need No Doctor," recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in New York, where the band had already performed more than 20 times.
Yet by the time Rockin' in the Fillmore was released, Frampton had quit the band. He explains, "Humble Pie enabled me to try a lot of different types of music, and my guitar style benefitted from the band's heavier side. We were very productive - five records in two years - but eventually it got frustrating. We had started out doing a lot of acoustic stuff, but once we started touring in America and we had to go on and kill for 40 minutes, there wasn't room for those songs any more. That was a little frustrating to me because I was writing a lot that way."
Frampton landed on his feet, releasing his star-studded solo debut, Wind of Change, in 1972. "It's a Plain Shame" comes from this recording, which was followed by 1973's Frampton's Camel (which included his later concert standard, "Do You Feel Like We Do?") then Something's Happening in 1974.
The artist cites his self-titled 1975 release Frampton, which included "Baby, I Love Your Way," as his favorite solo studio effort. "That was my first time recording on location, in a castle with Ronnie Lane's mobile outside. It was liberating to record that way, using the ambient sound of the different rooms, and it was very cheap - it wouldn't be these days, but it was then - so we were able to take our time."
Then followed the breakout success of Frampton Comes Alive. Only one track is included from this set - "Show Me the Way." Recalls Frampton, "it was so much bigger than I could ever have anticipated. We were just looking at it as the next rung on the ladder, and somewhere alone the line, things got out of control."
Frampton followed with the disappointing I'm in You, which is represented by a fine cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)." Says Frampton, "In retrospect, I should have taken some time off to reflect and absorb everything that had happened to me, but, of course, that is not the way it was done. Everybody wanted a follow-up right away, and I went along with that."
Anthology concludes with "I Can't Stand It No More," taken from the 1979 album, Where I Should Be.
Frampton's career soon stalled, including his starring role in Robert Stigwood's disastrous 1978 film version of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," and a serious car crash in which he broke his right arm, both hands, both feet, and several ribs. And a potential reunion with Steve Marriott was cut short when Marriott died in a fire at his home on April 20, 1991. (Frampton appeared with his old friend on stage at a London pub gig that would turn out to be Marriott's last public performance.)
Yet time heals many wounds, and Frampton (who now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio) has enjoyed a career renaissance. And his talents are certainly inescapable. Fans of good rock music should flock to Anthology.
Coldplay, Parachutes (Nettwerk/Capitol 2000) - Coldplay is a foursome hailing from England, which reached the number one position on the U.K. record charts with their debut, Parachutes. Headlined by the melancholic pop of "Yellow, which mixes in the downbeat Bristol sound of Portishead, Coldplay was heralded as Band of the Year 2000 by the British music press.
Coldplay consists of Jonny Buckland (guitars), Guy Berryman (bass), Will Champion (drums), and Chris Martin (vocals). Martin's voice has the seemingly inevitable British sense of sadness and yearning, while also retaining his optimism on songs like "Shiver" and "Spies." Explains the singer, "We just want the songs to reflect reality."
With it sparse production and bittersweet melodies, as on such songs as "High Speed" (which is anything but uptempo), Coldplay has achieved remarkable success (the album debuted at number one and continued to hover in the top ten charts for the remainder of the year). For the tortured underbelly of Britrock, look to Parachutes.
A Nod to Bob: An Artists' Tribute to Bob Dylan On His 60th Birthday (Red House Recordings 2001) - Bob Dylan celebrated his 60th birthday on May 24, 2001. And it's only fitting that St. Paul-based Red House Records has released a tribute to Minnesota's best-known musical export.
The artists on A Nod to Bob lean toward sad-eyed folk, such as gravel-voiced Greg Brown ("Pledging My Time"), Lucy Kaplansky ("It Ain't Me, Babe") and Cliff Eberhardt ("I Want You").
Yet there are rewarding moments. Ramblin' Jack Elliott delivers an amusing introduction to "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and Suzzy & Maggie Roche deliver a twisted harmony take on "Clothes Line Saga" (a song written by Dylan with the Band in the late 60s, which surfaced on 1975's The Basement Tapes).
Yet the unquestioned star of A Nod to Bob is Eliza Gilkyson, who delivers a searing rendition of the 1965 song, "Love Minus Zero/No Limit." The best Dylan songs have always had multiple layers of meaning, and Gilkyson plumbs those depths on this achingly gorgeous protest ballad.
The liner notes include comments from each of the artists, including the Twin Cities' Spider John Koerner (who contributes the deadly ballad, "Delia"), who remembers returning to Minneapolis in 1960, when the coffeehouse scene was burgeoning.
Comments Koerner, "In my first memory of Dylan, there was a bunch of us who somehow wound up drinking wine and playing music on the loading dock behind the chemistry building at the University of Minnesota. It was not difficult in those early days to see that he had the knack of a performer, but not one of us would have guessed what was going to happen to him and what he was going to accomplish."
Some say that Dylan's songwriting canon has risen to Biblical proportions, with something to guide you through any phase in your life; new love, marriage, family crisis, and religious searchings. A Nod to Bob is a capable salute to this towering giant.
- Randy Krbechek © 2001
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