Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Peter Frampton Issue

You know how sometimes you can get a song stuck in your head for weeks at a time? Often it’s not even the whole song, but just a riff that keeps repeating itself over and over. Lately for me this riff has been the drum intro to Peter Frampton’s (I’ll Give You) Money. I believe that the reason it has gone into a continuous loop in my mind is that I loaded the classic 70’s album Frampton Comes Alive! into my iTunes recently. Why that particular song off of the double live album got stuck in my head I don’t know. It must have something to do with that drum intro. I had first taped the album onto 8-track, using my brother’s Capehart when a local radio station broadcast the entire album uninterrupted. That used to be a big thing back then. It unabashedly encouraged home taping. It wasn’t long before I had to have the actual double album in my hands. I can still vividly remember going to a record store in East Providence back to buy the album. It was 1976 and I was fifteen. When I entered the record store I was greeted by a stack of Frampton Come Alive! albums nearly as tall as myself. The album was a huge seller and became the biggest selling live album of all time. It was kind of a fluke since not many people had heard of Peter Frampton before Frampton Comes Alive! Before releasing solo albums Frampton had been in the band Humble Pie. He had also played on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and Harry Nilsson’s Son of Schmilsson. But the effect of Frampton Comes Alive! was huge. It was also a success that Peter Frampton was never able to recapture. A couple years later he was starring as Billy Shears along with the Bee Gees in the horrid movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In June of 1978 he was in a near fatal car accident in the Bahamas. In 1995, nearly twenty years after his original success, he released Frampton Comes Alive II. In Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous Peter Frampton plays a roadie for the band Humble Pie (of which, in reality, he had been a founding member.) Crowe had written the original liner notes for Frampton Comes Alive! These days, along with Joan Rivers and Little Richard, he’s doing commercials for Geico Insurance. He’s standing in someone’s kitchen, playing his guitar using his signature piece of equipment: the TalkBox. I’m not sure if it’s a sad moment in his tumultuous career, or if we’re supposed to be laughing along with him at his obvious status as a washed up rock star. In Joan Rivers’ commercial she makes fun of her successions of plastic surgeries. Maybe the point of the commercials is self-denigration for washed up celebs. They are forced to accompany a “regular person” as that person relates their insurance story. What’s next for Peter: Dancing With the Stars?

Well, I’m hoping that I’ve now purged my system of Peter Frampton ephemera for a while and I can get on to more important things. Like Hillary vs. Obama, and McCain vs. Limbaugh. Fuck that noise! I’d rather shove a ten penny nail up my left nostril. I’m speaking metaphorically, of course.

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