Ignored Obscured Restored
In October, Peter Frampton officially retired, wrapping up his “Finale: The Farewell Tour” in nearby Concord, CA. Sadly, the underrated guitarist was motivated to undertake a final tour because he has been battling a degenerative muscle disease – inclusion-body myositis – that would eventually rob him of his ability to perform.
Most famous for his mega-sales, live double album, Frampton Comes Alive! (1976), Frampton deserves recognition for so much more.
Frampton started to play in bands when he was only 12 years old. By the time he was 16, he was recording with The Herd.
When Steve Marriott, of The Small Faces, formed Humble Pie in 1969, Frampton was recruited to be in that band’s original line-up. Frampton joined Humble Pie, in part to escape the teen idol image he was tagged with as the frontman for The Herd. He stayed with the band until 1971 when the development of his softer, pop songwriting didn’t fit in with Marriott’s more hard-rocking vision.
Today’s SotW, “Shine On,” is a good example of that quandary.
“Shine On” is the lead track from Humble Pie’s fourth album, Rock On (1971). The heavy guitar combined with a keen pop sensibility of “Shine On” point toward the songs that would make Frampton an international superstar later in the decade with hits like “Show Me the Way” and “Baby, I Love Your Way.” He delivers a terrific, soulful vocal too.
It was fitting that Frampton chose to close out his career in northern California. His high watermark, Frampton Comes Alive!, was recorded primarily at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom.
Enjoy… until next week.
Been a long time for this one. In retrosepct it’s easy to see how the music slowed down in the late 60’s-early 70’s. Pot.
Humble Pie started out as an eclectic band but veered toward heavy as they found their audience on the road. Savaged and/or dismissed by the critics, they certainly have a helluva Greatest Hits catalog, and quickly gained a word-of-mouth reputation as a band that put out live. On their Rockin’ the Fillmore album, just before they kick off “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” (they had a thing for covering Ray Charles songs), a voice shouts “Doctor!” My good friend the late Michael Alix (JJ Ajax) always swore that was him.
Frampton became huge because he too built his reputation live. I frist saw him third on the bill behind the J. Geils Band and BB King, with Frampton’s Camel, and they just grabbed the audience and held them, which is damn hard for a third-on-the-bill band to do. We saw them several times after that as he slowly built his following, releasing four studio albums before he exploded “overnight.”
Yes, the live album got tiresome after endless radio play, and no Frampton never came close to topping it due to the usual rock star problems. But he deserved his moment. Here’s the Pie covering Steppenwolf with Frampton adding some jazzy touches to a slow rocker: