Music Appreciation


There are three words that most accurately sum up my high school years in the late 70’s.

Not “the big play.”

Not “the senior prom.”

Not even “the back seat.” Although it sure was fun back there.

No, the three words that bring back the most treasured and nostalgic memories from those oh-so formative years are: “Frampton…Comes…Alive.”

The British-born rockers momentous live album, released in 1976, is an infinitely evocative soundtrack of those times for millions of us late-Boomers who grew up back in those post-Watergate years.

And over 30 years later, as “Frampton Comes Alive” sits as one of rocks all-time best selling live albums with close to 20 million sold, Peter Frampton, who appears for two shows at The Birchmere Sept. 24 and 25, is still alive and well, and very happy to talk about something other than his landmark record; that something being his brilliant Grammy-winning instrumental record, “Fingerprints.”

“The fact that Fingerprints has been accepted the way that it has, its made a huge change in my career for the better,” Frampton, 57, said last week. “It definitely gives me the feeling of acceptance as the musician, finally. Comes Alive” is an amazing legacy that seems to still be barreling on from generation to generation, which I am absolutely over the moon about, but we can actually talk about something else. Im not putting it down at all, its a wonderful thing, its just Ive got Fingerprints to talk about now, and its wonderful.”

“Fingerprints” is a brilliant showcase for Framptons exceptional guitar work, which has grown even stronger since the days of “Show Me The Way.” “I just have a passion for guitar playing, I always have, and to have that overlooked in the onslaught of Comes Alive was a bit of a downer. So a Grammy might have come for that thirty years later, but Ill take it.”

Frampton is largely self-taught, counts David Bowie as a childhood classmate, and was influenced by not only The Beatles and Buddy Holly, but also by The Shadows Hank Marvin (who appears on “Fingerprints”) and the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt; the latter thanks to his late father, Owen. In fact, Frampton dedicated “Fingerprints” and two moving odes on it to the man who quietly supported his growing success. “There was something special about the way he would encourage me. It wasnt really spoken, it was just something we had together. And I got his work ethic. He didnt ever stop. And neither do I.”

As for what caused his epic 1976 live opus to gain a place in rock and roll history, Frampton says its all about the live vibe. “Live is the perfect forum for me. I just absolutely love it. Every show is so vastly different, every audience is different. I think thats what I like about it the most, is that anything can happen. Whereas everythings so planned in the studio, I like things off the cuff, as much as possible.”