Many years ago I attended a Forbes magazine function where Watergate poster-boy G. Gordon Liddy was the featured speaker. For about thirty minutes the stunningly funny and pointed Mr. Liddy regaled us with story after story pulled for his life’s adventures as a political operative including one of his most famous involving the eating of rats to overcome ingrained fears. As he opened the floor up for questions, one young executive asked him -“What does rat taste like?” – To which Liddy replied nonchalantly, “Well, if you must know young man, they taste a lot like squirrel!”
To this day, I still crack-up thinking about the brilliance of that crazy, existentially zero context response which tells you everything and nothing at the same time. So if you’d like to know what Peter Frampton sounds like, circa 2010, please see G. Gordon Liddy for guidance. Peter Frampton is the ultimate musical enigma – an acknowledged guitar statesman wrapped in a persona that can never quite escape the rapid, self-inflicted, descent from Superstar to Parody to Pariah that he endured in the late 1970’s.
1976’s Frampton Comes Alive vaulted him from relative obscurity to the commanding heights of the rock world – quickly crashing with the hilariously self-mocking follow-up, I’m in You and then – finally immolating himself (and the Bee Gees) completely as the clueless star of one of the worst car wrecks in film history – Robert Stigwood’s excrementally and excruciating bad, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
All that said, Frampton would need the luck of Lazarus to return to anything approaching relevancy, which makes his newest, spectacular release, Thank You Mr. Churchill, all the more improbable and noteworthy. Churchill is a flat out rock album killer. From the disc’s first, title cut to the last, Black Ice, Frampton throws his guitar muscle and production prowess around to tremendous effect – his playing is articulate, the lyrics matter and his veteran back-up band gives proof upon proof why his live shows are still so critically well received today. Given the somewhat limited notice paid to this record it is a shame that Frampton didn’t release it under the name “Paul Hampton” – it deserved much more appreciation than the limited number of spins it received on XM and tastes so much better than squirrel. Very highly recommended!
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Recorded at his home studio in Cincinnati, Churchill is deeply intimate, weaving tales of loss, love and redemption and the lessons learned along the way. Churchill also includes Frampton's reflective take on troubling world events, including the Wall Street bailout ("Restraint") and even the tragic case of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl kidnapped more than 30 years ago by North Korea ("Asleep at the Wheel").
Frampton wrote all tracks on Churchill, penning many with longtime collaborator Gordon Kennedy. His co-producer/co-engineer, Chris Kimsey, was the engineer on Frampton's first solo record, 1972's Wind of Change. Co-engineer Don Gunn (Death Cab For Cutie) also contributes to Churchill. Guests include Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, who also played on Fingerprints, and the legendary Funk ...